Last week Deakin criminologist, Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon, was invited to attend a two-day workshop on ‘Life Imprisonment and Human Rights’ held at the International Institute for the Sociology of Law in Onati (Spain). The workshop was hosted by Professor Dirk van Zyl Smit and Dr Catherine Appleton who are the lead investigators of the Leverhulme funded Life Imprisonment Worldwide project that is hosted by Nottingham University.
Twenty-four delegates from around the world met over two days at Onati to examine the practice of life imprisonment across countries worldwide, including when life imprisonment can be imposed, upon whom and what opportunities for release are made available to life-sentenced offenders in Europe, the United States, Australia and elsewhere. A key focus of the workshop was on the human rights concerns that arise from life imprisonment practices.
Kate’s presentation, ‘Sentencing to life in Australia: Current practices and future challenges‘ examined the availability and application of life sentences across Australian state and territory jurisdictions, including in cases involving juvenile offenders. This builds on previous research that Kate has undertaken examining the viability of the mandatory life sentence for murder in England and Wales.