Community sanctions in Australian criminal justice

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University of New South Wales

Australia’s prison population is booming. Over the last five years, the number of people in prison across Australian states and territories has increased by 40 per cent (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2018). New South Wales (NSW) accounts for 32 per cent of Australia’s total prison population and for the largest increases to Australia’s prison population for all states and territories over recent years (ABS, 2018). There are currently over 13,400 people in NSW prisons, however this figure is based on a census which is a count taken at a particular time and which therefore fails to accurately show the far greater number of how many people flow in and out of prisons over the course of a year. Over the last 12 months, more than 19,000 people have left NSW prisons and returned to their communities (NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research [BOCSAR], 2019). Notably, a significant number of these people will return: in 2017-18, for example, 51 per cent of adults released from prison in NSW returned to prison under a new sentence within two years (Productivity Commission, 2019). Research has established that people in prison have a range of social, health, economic, education and disability related needs (Baldry et al., 2006, 2015; Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, [AIHW] 2015; Australian Law Reform Commission [ALRC], 2018). Ensuring that people are adequately supported in their transition from prison to the community has significant human rights, social justice and community safety implications.


Obstacles to effective support of people released from prison
Schwartz, M., Russell, S., Baldry, E., Brown, D., Cunneen, C. and Stubbs, J
University of New South Wales
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©2020 UNSW Sydney

Melanie Schwartz, Sophie Russell, Eileen Baldry, David Brown, Chris Cunneen, Julie Stubbs, Obstacles to Effective Support of People Released from Prison: Wisdom from the Field (Rethinking Community Sanctions Project, UNSW, 2020).