I spent my whole life asking people questions, in somewhat different circumstances. This podcast just involved me sitting down and having a chat to some very interesting people.
Law-and-order politics and public commentary often lambast sentencing procedure. A new podcast by the NSW Sentencing Council has been launched to address misconceptions, with some big name guests.
‘Sentencing Explained’ delves into sentencing trends and practices in NSW, and is hosted by Peter McClellan, a former Supreme Court Justice and the former Chief Royal Commissioner into the landmark inquiry into institutional responses to Child Sex Abuse.
McClellan hosts conversations with esteemed guests, including judges, police, public interest lawyers, prosecutors, victims’ advocates and Sentencing Council members.
McClellan told LSJ that the podcast provides a window into the NSW justice system for students, lawyers, and anyone interested in criminal law.
“I was very pleased to be able to put together a series of podcast episodes that will fulfill the public education role for the Sentencing Council, but also, for me it was a lot of fun,” McClellan said.
The primary motivator for starting the podcast was to fulfill the Sentencing Council’s public education role. The other was to provide a resource for high school students taking the legal studies course in years 11 and 12.
“It’s a much greater exposition of the people involved in crime and sentencing throughout the state than just the principles for sentencing,” McClellan said.
“The interviews go significantly beyond sentencing.
“I talk to each of these people about their jobs, what it involves, what their backgrounds are and how they came to this career path.”
The first episode features former NSW Attorney General of Bob Debus, who oversaw significant reform of the sentencing process and set up the Sentencing Council in 2003.
“The interview with Bob Debus tells you about the time when it became necessary for him to step in and develop a response to a concern about the possibility of mandatory sentencing,” said McClellan.
“It is a valuable piece of social and legal history.
“It records a time in the state when there was a real crisis in relation to sentencing issues. Bob discusses how he responded to them and achieved a satisfactory outcome.”
The first season comprises 20 episodes released every Monday. Each episode is accompanied by a teacher’s guide to help teachers understand the issues they need to raise with their students.
“What I think the general public will be interested in, apart from the sentencing principles, is that they get to listen to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Public Defender, the Head of the Children’s Court and the Head of the Drug Court,” said McClellan.
“Apart from a series like this, you’ll never get them to talk publicly,” he said.
McClellan also spoke with a Senior Police officer, a former Corrective Services Commissioner, and a Chief Justice. There are also episodes on Aboriginal sentencing, including Circle Sentencing and the Walama List.
“I spent my whole life asking people questions, in somewhat different circumstances,” said McClellan.
“This podcast just involved me sitting down and having a chat to some very interesting people.”