The Challenge

The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council (QSAC) was set-up in November 2016 to provide independent research and advice, seek public views and promote community understanding of sentencing matters.

There’s often a lot of public debate about sentencing and its supposed leniency, yet citizens don’t readily appreciate that there’s a lot more to a sentence than the headline. In fact, research conducted by academic Kate Warner has shown that people informed about sentencing and individual cases are frequently more lenient in sentencing than the actual judge in the case.

To demonstrate the complexities involved and help educate the public, the QSAC wanted to launch a program that would reach the public and their key audiences, that:

  • was engaging and informative about the sentencing process in Queensland
  • placed the participant in the judge’s shoes by sentencing cases based on real-life events
  • enabled the collection of data to analyse public opinion.

JFY

Prior to the ‘Judge for Yourself’ project, Squiz worked with QSAC as users of their Squiz Matrix CMS platform for their corporate website www.sentencingcouncil.qld.gov.au.

QSAC approached Squiz about this new project armed with a strong idea as to what they were looking to achieve, seeking Squiz’s expertise to help them to understand how it could be implemented.

In addition to needing to be a cost-effective solution with wide appeal, the solution would technically need to be:

  • An interactive, video-based digital solution that was compatible across multiple platforms and integrates with their existing Squiz Matrix CMS-based website
  • The central pillar of a much wider campaign, capable of handling the traffic from the many channels being used to push to it
  • Easily editable to ensure that it can be modified and grow with QSAC’s changing needs
  • Capable of providing user insights with easily extractable data

After an initial discussion between Squiz, QSAC and an agency already approached to create the video content, it became clear that the ‘Judge for Yourself’ campaign site would need to be easily modified so as to achieve all the goals and ensure longevity; especially as sentencing guidelines and legislative changes can occur.

The Solution

Squiz was able to use QSAC’s clear brief and well-articulated goals to create and implement a technological solution that would fit their needs in a short timeframe.

A microsite was created that hangs off their core, Squiz Matrix CMS-powered website.

Users enter it from various channels and, without knowing much about the cases with which they’re presented, are asked to pass sentence on an offender for their crime. The user is then walked through the details of the case through court scenes, re-enactments of the offending and quizzes learning about the sentencing process and criminal justice system along the way.

Users are then given the opportunity to re-evaluate the sentence they had initially given, before comparing their sentence with the actual sentence imposed by the magistrate or judge, and the sentence that others that are using the program have imposed.

To enable this user journey, the web property was designed with a mix of out-of-the-box modules from their Squiz Matrix CMS instance, (for things such as online quizzes), and with a selection of cleverly worked integrations, such as the video content that was to be hosted on YouTube.

In order to provide the necessary data for the live survey results to the site’s users, (as well as overall statistics to QSAC), On-Site and Enterprise Search Platform, and Funnelback, were used in conjunction with Matrix and its in-built modules.

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The Result

QSAC launched ‘Judge for Yourself’ as part of Law Week in May 2017 before rolling it out to stakeholders through a social media campaign and community events across the state.

The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive and the future for the ‘Judge for Yourself’ site is for QSAC to partner with other agencies to add new content and promote it to new audiences.

The target for the campaign was to reach 20,000 users within the first year of its launch, but the site saw over 8,000 in just the first 6 weeks, so the initial target is set to be surpassed by some distance!

We knew what we wanted from the solution and how it should work, we just weren’t sure how to achieve it technically - Squiz helped us make it happen.

Having Squiz involved at the early stages of the project meant that we didn’t go down the wrong path, so we saved time and now have a very high quality product that’s adaptable for the future.

Dan Rogers, Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council

The ‘Judge for Yourself’ website is now being used within school and university legal studies programs as a teaching aid.

The core aim of the project was to help the site’s users understand the complexity of the sentencing system - something that’s definitely been achieved.

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