Articles on Beyond Prison

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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. shutterstock

How do we break down a $3.4b prisons bill? What can it tell us?

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.
Electronic monitoring typically involves fitting offenders with tamper-proof bracelets to monitor whether they are abiding by conditions imposed on them. Flickr/Chris Yarzab

Electronic innovation can help fix an archaic, crowded prison system

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. AAP/Julian Smith

Post-release mentoring succeeds in everything but winning funding

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. Youtube/PBS screenshot

Swift and certain sanctions: does Australia have room for HOPE?

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

Burdens of war service create a strong case for a veterans’ court

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. AAP

Crime and punishment and rehabilitation: a smarter approach

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. AAP/Jesse Roberts

‘Tough on crime’ is creating a lost generation of Indigenous youth

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? Shutterstock/sakhorn

What are prisons for? Answering that is the starting point for reform

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

Our $3b-a-year system is flying blind in supporting ex-prisoners

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.
Rising imprisonment rates are the result of political responses to media and public agitation for tougher sentences. AAP/David Crosling

The evidence is in: you can’t link imprisonment to crime rates

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.

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