Incarceration and recidivism, issues of imprisonment & sentencing

Justice Reinvestment: What exactly is Justice Reinvestment? CJRN's Melanie Schwartz discusses this on SBS's world news (24th July 2013)

Just Reinvest NSW: Program to tackle indigenous over-representation in jail could be a 'game changer' - (SMH4.2.2015)

Indigenous Incarceration

Indigenous Australians with Mental Health Disorders and Cognitive Disability in the Criminal Justice System (IAMHDCD) Project:

UNSW's Elizabeth McEntyre, Ruth McCausland and Eilieen Baldy are involved in this project - a collection of articles can be found on The Conversation

Report reveals thousands of Indigenous people with mental health issues are being 'warehoused' in jails (ABC Lateline 4.11.2015)
How Aboriginal women with disabilities are set on a path into the criminal justice system (Elizabeth McEntyre - UNSW in The Conversation )
Richard Ackland in The Saturday Paper 12.12.2015  on how indigenous people are locked into social injustice: "Rates of imprisonment have risen. The law remains inflexible. Outcomes from offenders are just as bad, or worse"
'Tough on Crime' is creating a lost generation of Indigenous Youth (The Conversation 15.6.2015).

If we don't address the failing mental health and untreated addiction of Australia's inmates, the "revolving door" between prisons and the community will continue, writes Toby Hall (ABC online The Drum 27.11.2015)

Prison needle programs have cut Hepatitis C numbers elsewhere but Australian prison guards say needles are a weapon: (ABC AM 25.8.2015)

Following on from the series on imprisonment below - The Conversation has another excellent series of articles: Beyond Prison

In a new series on imprisonment trends, issues and policies across Australia, The Conversation asks why are imprisonment rates soaring, to what purpose, and with what financial and human consequences?

CJRN's David Brown on NSW imprisonment/politics and perception The Conversation

A beautifully written piece from the US on education for prisoners .. something we do a bit better here. Never hurts to remind ourselves of the value of such programs! (New York Times 4.4.2015)

In a new series on imprisonment trends, issues and policies across Australia, The Conversation asks why are imprisonment rates soaring, to what purpose, and with what financial and human consequences?

Just Reinvest NSW: Program to tackle indigenous over-representation in jail could be a 'game changer' - (SMH4.2.2015)

New BOCSAR report shows massive increase in juveniles on remand/in custody in NSW due to police refusal of bail 

Number of Indigenous Australians in prison a 'catastrophe'  (ABC Online 5.12.2014)

Julie Edwards, CEO of Jesuit Social Services Australia, writes in The Guardian (21.7.2014): "To prevent offending, how about giving former prisoners support?"

A University of Melbourne study of Queensland prisoners has found that most ex prisoners are unemployed or homeless 6 months after release. (ABC 26.6.2014)    (SMH 30.5.2014)

A coronial inquest has once again shed light on the issue of drugs in prisons and the treatment of inmates addicted to drugs. Tracy Brannigan died during a 'drug party' in her cell at Dilwynia Correctional Centre in 2013 (ABC 7.30 9.6.2014, SMH 10.6.2014)

The sentence  handed to Thomas Kelly's 19yo 'king hit" killer has been handed down and the sentencing debate has erupted again: Nicholas Cowdery picks apart the media reaction and initial police charges (SMH 10th Nov) and in conversation with Adam Spencer on ABC 702 (11th November).  Paul Bibby  in the Herald (SMH 8th Nov, 2013) and defence lawyer Andrew Tiedt in the Kings Tribune (20th November 2013).

  • Figures show judges are handing down tougher sentences despite the rhetoric to the contrary (SMH 3.3.2014)
  • Nicholas Cowdery on ABC Radio National's Law Report discussing the law and order climate and the new 'one punch' laws which he says are unjustified. (11.2.2014)

An excellent report on the harm, revictimisation and trauma suffered by female prisoners by ABC's 730 report (6th Nov 2013) with commentary from Eileen Baldry. Also on The Drum. And a link to the Australian Institute of Family Studies report "Addressing womens victimisation histories in custodial settings".

ABC Radio National's Sunday Extra program has been running a series on imprisonment - all downloadable:

Monash University's Sarah Krasnostein writes on the William Bugmy decision in the High Court "When Individualised Justice is A Pipe Dream' (New Matilda, 3rd October 2013)

Richard Ackland writes in the Sydney Morning Herald (23rd August 2013) on "the tension between criminality, sentencing, social disadvantage and indigenous background": Let punishment fit crime but the circumstances too

The incarceration and parole of serious and violent sexual offenders has been brought to the fore with recent horrific attacks in NSW and Victoria:

The Callinan review of Victoria's Adult Parole Board has been released, sparking comment, discussion and political reaction

  • A Stateline (ABC 28.6.2013) story: "A debate about the early release of violent sexual offenders is masking deeper concerns about the performance of NSW prisoner and parole rehabilitation programs with the question of how to identify or reform psychopaths paramount."

UNSW academics discuss the ongoing issue of recidivism and imprisonment in this article in The Australian

Visiting Professorial Fellow Nicholas Cowdery discusses the differences and similarities between NSW and Victoria's Criminal Justice Systems on Radio National's Law Report

Radio National - The Law Report: 20 years on from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody has anything changed? And what of the future for Aboriginal youth in Australia?

Cathy Van Extel brings us the story of Melisa, who with an IQ of 57 is facing gaol.

 An incisive article on prisons by Cynthia Banham in the Sydney Morning Herald, with contributions from David Brown

Private prisons

  • Private prisons, privatised Criminal Justice and America's massive incarcerated population .. sometimes satire is the best way to draw attention to a tragedy, as John Oliver on 'Last Week Tonight' on HBO demonstrates in this brilliant dissection, with assistance from puppets and Sesame Street
  • The rise of for-profit probabation and fines is leading to a lifetime of debt and incarcertion for many low income people in the USA (ACLU 18.6.2014)
  • British Company Serco currently runs 2 prisons and several immigration detention centres in Australia with plans for expansion in justice and other areas. John Harris In The Guardian UK raises serious questions about the company and its operations which are extensive across the UK
  • A Radio National broadcast (6.3.2013) examined the issue of private prisons and US churches's campaign against the growth of the private prison industry:

  • In 2011-2012, the Corrections Corporation of America recorded total revenue of $1.7 billion. The corporation runs 66 private prisons in the United States. The ProPublica website also reported that the corporation had spent almost $18 million lobbying politicians. So there’s big money to be made out of prisons in a country where the inmate population is about 2 million.
  • Private prisons also operate in Australia. Serco operates jails and detention centres, and they’re controversial. The advocates of private prisons say they’re more efficient, although a 2012 report by the Productivity Commission raised doubts.

    But aside from the economics, what about the ethics? A recent edition of Sojourners magazine reported on a major campaign by many of America’s mainline churches against private prisons. The United Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and some Catholic bishops from the southern states, have questioned the morality of prisons for profit – especially when some private operators lobby against efforts to decriminalise MINOR drug offences.

    One of the groups leading the campaign is called Strength to Love, which takes its name from a famous sermon by Martin Luther King. The spokeswoman for Strength to Love is the Reverend Rebecca Stelle of the Becoming Church in Washington DC.

The Review of the NSW Bail Act by the Law Reform Commission was released on 12th June 2012. The full report can be found here.

 More information, links, reports and comment can be found here.