Australia’s prison population could be reduced by one-third with little risk to community safety, according to research conducted for the Institute of Public Affairs. Source: The Guardian.
The research paper by Mirko Bagaric, the dean of law at the Swinburne University of Technology, recommends law reform to prevent the imprisonment of non-violent offenders.
It adds to calls from the federal Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, and the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, to tackle Australia’s rising incarceration rates, particularly among women and Indigenous women.
Professor Bagaric cites Australian Bureau of Statistics figures that show Australia’s incarceration rate now sits at 214 prisoners per 100,000 adult population, a near-record high.
Since a low in 1984, Australia’s incarceration rate has increased by over 4 per cent a year, three times faster than the growth in the general population.
Professor Bagaric’s research for the conservative thinktank projects that on current trends, Australia’s incarceration rate could reach 300 prisoners per 100,000 adults by 2030, which would place it inside the top five for OECD nations.
In 2020-21, Australia’s spent about $4 billion on prisons, at a cost to the taxpayer of each prisoner at $375 a day or $136,875 a year, the paper said.
The Government’s national platform states that incarceration “fails to reduce recidivism, provide effective outcomes for victims of crime or to make our communities safe”, promising federal Labor will work with states and territories to pursue “evidence-based criminal justice policies … which rely less on high cost and harmful prisons”.