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Approximately a third of NSW criminal charges are dealt with in rural and regional courts. About a third of prisoners in NSW goals come from rural and regional NSW. However, resources – legal and therapeutic – available for rural and regional defendants do not match those available for offenders located in metropolitan areas. Twenty-one significant disparities are identified. Three sources of these disparities are also identified – court proceedings, geographical remoteness, and government failures. The majority of identified disparities, it is argued, is attributable to government failure. Recent changes to sentencing law and practices in the administration of sentences are looked at from a rural perspective and potential new and continuing disparities are identified. The limitations arising from the disparities to the exercise of judicial discretion with a rural setting are explained particularly with reference to sentencing.
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