Apr 30, 2018

Rise in re-offending shows that Victoria’s new prisons won’t work

Labor and Coalition promises for larger prisons may sway votes in the Victorian election but it won't do anything about the state's ballooning rate of re-offence.

Greg Barns — Barrister and writer

Greg Barns

Barrister and writer

Victorians head to an election this year with both the Andrews government and the Coalition opposition parties promising to increase the already extraordinary growth in the number of prisoners in that state. Last week Corrections Minister Gayle Tierney told The Age, which reported that Victoria now has 7000 prisoners (a rise of 70% in ten years) costing $800 million a year, “It’s unfortunate that we need to build new prisons but it just is a matter of fact unfortunately ... and we need to ensure that we’ve got a secure prison system so that we can keep our community safe."

But while Tierney and her opposition counterparts, such as Liberal Corrections Spokesman Ed O’Donohue, believe that more prisoners equals greater safety, the Productivity Commission’s latest data shows the contrary to be the case.

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6 thoughts on “Rise in re-offending shows that Victoria’s new prisons won’t work

  1. kyle Hargraves

    One ought to construct a graph of population (independent variable) and prison population (dependent variable) and ascertain if the increase in prison population is merely a function of the population of the State (or otherwise).

    There may well be some justification for experimentation. Australia, as with all else, seems to be following the American system. More vehicles requires more road. More convictions requires more prisons. Perhaps there are other feasible models that could be researched for Australian conditions.

    “These rises in recidivism rates in Victoria coincide with an increase in the prison population over the same period, according to the Sentencing Advisory Council, from 4884 prisoners in 2012 to 7,149 in 2017.”

    The recidivism rates might coincide with a variation of sun-spot count also. It won’t do to infer a causal factor from a correlation. Just how an increase in the prison population has contributed (even in part) to an increase in recidivism needs to be explained; indeed verified for the inference to have any meaning at all.

    Then a strict analysis as to why re-offending (envariably for the same crime) is so prevelent needs to be undertaken. There are any number of variables. I recall reading a biography were it was observed that Ivan Malat’s elder brother move to Qld to estrange himself from the family and, thus, avoid criminal connections.

    BTW thanks for the link to the Report concerning Prison Reform in NZ. That item alone justifies this month’s subscription.

  2. Kenneth Piaggio

    The Netherlands and Philadelphia (USA) have both closed prisons.
    Offenders are managed in the community with proper Rehabilitation, Drug, Mental Health and Trauma programs that have reduced recidivism. What are we doing in Australia!

  3. AR

    It seems that each Victorian prisoner costs about $150,000 pa.
    I wonder how many would reoffend if they were guaranteed a fifth of that?
    Unfortunately, that would lead to massive unemployment in the incarceration industry.

    1. kyle Hargraves

      Almost an argument for a UBI. Undertake a criminal act and one foregoes their UBI. As an aside pensions, initially, until the second world war, were awarded only to “fit and proper persons”; i.e. NOT former criminals or undischarged bankrupts.

  4. Hoojakafoopy

    ‘What a tragedy for Victorians that there is no Andrew Little or Jacinda Ardern running for election.’ What is the policy of the Greens on the incarceration of criminals? I doubt that they are advocating for the building of more prisons.

    1. kyle Hargraves

      Predictably : nothing (that I can see). There is a heading with the comprehensive title “Social Justice” but the content is about as specific as any statement that di Natale has ever made; even allowing for the distraction of the photographs.

      There could be some Green party members whom are building contractors so the assumption may or may not follow.

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