Getting away with murder

Kate Fitz-Gibbon's research raises serious questions.

Deakin University's Kate Fitz-Gibbon.
Deakin University's Kate Fitz-Gibbon.

People are potentially getting away with murder in Victoria because of secret plea bargaining deals being done by prosecutors.

A study by two Melbourne criminologists - Deakin University's Kate Fitz-Gibbon and Dr Asher Flynn from Monash University - has raised serious questions about the consequences of laws passed seven years ago that introduced the defensive homicide concept to the state's criminal statutes.

"Criminal cases in Victoria, including those involving the most serious homicide offences, appear to be resolved on the basis of unscrutinised decisions in a largely unregulated and non-transparent process," the researchers wrote in their study published in the Melbourne University Law Review.

"Prosecutors can effectively be viewed as 'the key gate-keepers' who ration criminal justice... Their discretionary powers allow them to play a more prominent and significant role in the delivery of modern justice than the traditional involvement of the community in a jury trial."

"As a result, the jury, and the community input, is largely silenced."

As a result of their study the Baillieu government has decided to amend Victoria's defensive homicide law in a bid to ensure secret deals done by prosecutors are not letting people get away with murder.

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