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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 93089 Find in a Library
Title: Criminal Injustice System
Corporate Author: Australian Legal Workers Group (NSW)
Editor(s): J Basten; M Richardson; C Ronalds; G Zdenkowski
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 328
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Legal Workers Group (NSW)
Sydney ,NSW 2001, Australia
Sale Source: Australian Legal Workers Group (NSW)
GPO Box 3046
Sydney ,NSW 2001,
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: A series of papers focuses on the need for reform in police interrogation and trial procedure (prosecution, representation, and juries), and the politics of law reform is discussed.
Abstract: A number of studies provide empirical evidence that police practices in the interrogation of suspects violate suspects' rights and that the outcome of the interrogation process is of critical importance in determining the court's disposition of the case. The most flagrant violation of suspects' rights is indicated to be the fabrication of confessions by police. Studies of the police interrogation of women homicide suspects, Aborigines, and children suggest that the 'right to silence' is not respected by the police and that the concept of 'voluntary' confessions is rendered meaningless due to the imbalance of power favoring the police in the police-suspect interaction. The studies call for legislation that specifically targets the implementation of the rights of classes of vulnerable suspects, such as children and Aborigines. The taped recording of interrogations is offered as a solution to the problem of police-fabricated confessions. In the general area of trial procedure, reforms are indicated to be needed in the control of prosecutorial discretion, pretrial discovery, and the use of jury trials. It is advised that greater fairness, impartiality, and independence in prosecution can be attained by controlling the ad hoc nature of existing prosecution practices. Further, currently prosecutors are not required to disclose exculpatory evidence to the accused. This is said to reinforce the balance of power in favor of the prosecution in adversarial proceedings, since the prosecution has superior resources for obtaining and analyzing evidence. A more comprehensive provision for legal aid services is advocated as is the more frequent use of jury trials. The discussion of the politics of reform focuses primarily upon means for countering police malpractice through law reform. Tables of statutes and cases are provided as well as a subject index and chapter notes. For individual documents, see NCJ 93090-97.
Index Term(s): Australia; Confessions; Interview and interrogation; Juries; Law reform; Legal aid services; Pretrial discovery; Prosecutorial discretion
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