The days of prison, an 18th-century industrial institution, as the justice system's dominant form of punishment may be numbered. Electronic monitoring of offenders is one promising alternative.
We simply don't know how many prisoners are released each year, nor their demographic characteristics. As a result, we cannot tailor services that would reduce ex-prisoners' risks of re-offending.
Imprisonment rates in Tasmania have steadily declined over the past decade -- the only state or territory where this has happened. That is a result of progressive and effective corrections policies.
The ACT's first prison opened in 2009 with lofty ideals, but rising prisoner numbers and high rates of re-imprisonment are presenting a severe test of the capital's reformist corrections agenda.
Indigenous people are jailed at a rate 18 times that of non-Aboriginal Western Australian adults, but the overall rate is high too. The great costs of this punitive approach yield few clear benefits.
Queensland's rates of imprisonment had been falling, but have undergone a sharp reversal - much of it driven by the nation's highest rates of return by prisoners released into the community.
Since 2004, the number of prisoners in South Australia has risen seven times faster than the state's net population growth – and nearly doubled its rate of locking up Indigenous Australians.
Victoria was once characterised by low imprisonment rates and innovative corrections policy. The state now has Australia's highest rate of growth in imprisonment.
The US is the great incarcerator, spending US$60 billion a year on prisons, and Australia is sliding down the same path. The solution? Confine jails almost exclusively to sexual and violent offenders.