Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Strong early results for landmark justice reforms: Mark Spearman

The first evaluation of the NSW Government’s sentencing reforms shows they are working as intended by giving more offenders an opportunity to turn their lives around.

Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said these reforms are a key component of the government’s strategy to drive down reoffending rates and ensuring community safety remains paramount.

“We overhauled the legislation in 2018 to hold offenders to account while ensuring they receive appropriate supervision and support to address their offending behaviour, resulting in less crime and fewer victims,” Mr Speakman said.

Minister for Counter Terrorism and Corrections Anthony Roberts welcomed the findings of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

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“These data show more offenders are getting the right response to break the cycle of criminal behaviour,” Mr Roberts said.

The BOCSAR reports released today measure the impact of the 2018 amendments and judicial impressions of the reforms which replaced existing community based sentences with new streamlined sentencing options, including tougher community supervision orders.

Findings from the two reports include:

  • A significant increase in the proportion of adult offenders in the Local, District and Supreme Courts receiving a supervised community order;
  • A decrease in the proportion of offenders in the Local, District and Supreme Courts receiving short term prison sentences;
  • General agreement by judicial officers that the sentencing reforms are operating as intended.
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43 per cent of NSW’s judicial officers from the Local, District and Supreme Courts responded to the survey. Some made specific suggestions aimed at improving the effectiveness of the sentencing options. The Department of Communties and Justice is considering these.

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An ICO can include a range of conditions, including electronic monitoring, a curfew, community service work and participation in rehabilitation or treatment programs to address the offending behaviour. Community Corrections uses a robust risk assessment process to ensure higher risk offenders received appropriate community supervision.

A second stage of research by BOCSAR, to be published in 2021, will examine whether the reforms have reduced reoffending rates. The reports can be found here.

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