Longer-term objectives of prison, such as their cost as a deterrent or the cost of failures to rehabilitate, are much harder to put a price on.
Prisons cost data should facilitate comparisons of relative performance, value for money and efficiency. But limitations on the quality of the data mean that, more often than not, they don’t.
Citizens’ juries are one mechanism to draw on informed public opinion to guide policy.
It is claimed 'tough on crime' policies reflect public opinion, but a properly informed public, via models such as citizens' juries, is likely to arrive at different views on prison and its alternatives.
Education is the key to not re-offending.
Education is one of the most important factors in giving prisoners options upon release, reducing the chance of re-offending.
Electronic monitoring typically involves fitting offenders with tamper-proof bracelets to monitor whether they are abiding by conditions imposed on them.
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.
Funding CCTV cameras annihilated a proposal in NSW to create a mentoring program directed at young women in prisons or undergoing release.
Women coming out of jail require forms of assistance that are not simply directed at technologies for prevention or elimination of recidivism, but rather that are focused on health and well-being.
Judge Steven Alm pioneered the HOPE project, the first of scores of swift and certain sanction programmes in the US.
The success of probation programmes based on swift and certain sanctions has led to more than 160 such schemes operating in the US. Australia should consider whether the model might work here too.
Australia acknowledges the sacrifices of war veterans on commemorative occasions, but those who are charged with criminal offences can only hope the court shows understanding.
AAP/Rebecca Le May
The creation of veterans' courts could be part of a fundamental shift to a criminal justice system that genuinely tackles the causes of crime.
A NSW programme in which prisoners train stray dogs as part of their rehabilitation is one of a number of innovations adopted in recent years.
Approaches to crime that rely on punitive methods have proved to be ineffective and counter-productive. Rehabilitation programmes not only prevent crime, but are cost-effective and practical.
Indigenous young people are 25 times more likely to be detained than non-Indigenous young people.
A new generation of Indigenous youth is being separated from their families and culture – this time by the force of criminal law that ignores the proven alternative of community-based justice.
Unless most prisoners are given a realistic prospect of rehabilitation, how much good can prison really do?
Sentencing policy is a mixed bag of approaches: punishment, deterrence, protection and rehabilitation. The system will remain costly and ineffective until punitive instincts give way to a more rational approach.
Prisoners are released every day, but we don’t know how many. The lack of basic data is an obstacle to effective services that would minimise their risk of re-offending.
AAP/Dean Lewins/Image digitally altered
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.
Education has been found to reduce prisoners’ re-offending, but how can they gain the skills they need without the internet?
Flickr/I K O
Education has been found to reduce prisoners' re-offending, but how can they be properly educated today without internet access?
Entry to prison presents an opportunity to identify mental illnesses and provide treatment that will continue after release.
Our research suggests one in three people taken into police custody are likely to be receiving psychiatric treatment at the time.
Rising imprisonment rates are the result of political responses to media and public agitation for tougher sentences.
Some claim rising crime rates justify jailing more people, others that such policies cut crime. Evidence from around the world shows those claims are wrong and that we should be looking at inequality.