Every state and territory in Australia permits sentences of life without parole.
As a country that claims to uphold the human rights of all – including those before the law – Australia should take notice of international practice when it comes to life imprisonment.
Inmates walk outside their cells at San Quentin State Prison in June 2012.
Even though mental illness is consistently associated with criminal behavior, these conditions are largely undertreated in our prison system.
Women who commit the same crime as men should in most cases receive lighter penalties.
The undeniable difference between men and women when it comes to committing crime should be reflected in a fundamentally different approach to the sentencing of women.
Almost 60% of short-term prisoners reoffend - ensuring they have a place to stay could seriously reduce that risk.
Vicky Thompson: let down by the system.
Transgender woman Vikki Thompson died after being placed in an all-male prison. It's time we stuck up for the rights of trans people.
The screen is as close as many people get to experiencing prison. But do these dramas offer a realistic insight into life behind bars?
If we want to see re-offending rates go down, a radical solution could be to train prisoners in how to start their own businesses.
Pope Francis will visit this Philadelphia prison on September 27 2015.
The United States could have a more productive discussion about prison reform, if we admitted the problems with prisons also affect our poorest communities.
The numbers of people in Victoria’s prisons are unsustainable and in part due to recent policy changes.
Victoria is failing in relation to rehabilitation of prisoners and post-release support. The consequence is that more people are imprisoned, more often.
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán escorted by soldiers prior to his second escape from prison.
Reuters / Henry Romero
Economic growth and investment is supporting prison reform, but it will take time to root out deeply ingrained bad practice.
When men and women go to college in prison, they often do not return to the world of crime.
President Obama wants to reopen access to Pell grants to prisoners. Studies show when men and women enroll in college programs, they are less likely to return to prison.
Joyce Mitchell appears in court in Plattsburgh, New York on July 28 2015.
When it comes to their targets and tactics, inmates follow a predictable pattern.
Getting out of jail may no longer be free.
The US is facing a silent crisis on prison probation, and the UK is following its lead.
Smoking has long been embedded in prison culture.
It's fair to say Victoria's ban on smoking in prisons has had some teething issues, but there's strong evidence to suggest the move is doing the right thing by inmates, staff and the health system.
Oscar Pistorius' early release was a virtual certainty from the day he was sentenced.
Oscar Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide for what was deemed a tragic accident. In light of that verdict, he has not been subject to any special treatment in terms of his sentence.
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.
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.
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.