In the last five years, the number of people in custody has risen by a third
. Australia's 39,000 prisoners cost over $3.5 billion last financial year
Is the investment paying off? Do prisons work?
It’s easy to find examples of prisons failing to achieve these aims. Whether a perpetrator casts their mind to Prisons are designed to serve a range of purposes. They should deter people from committing crimes, rehabilitate offenders, protect the community and punish offenders in proportion to what they’ve done.
A quick scan of the media shows plenty of times when prisons seem to miss the mark. One punch laws introduced harsh prison sentences for alcohol-fuelled violence, but is anyone really thinking about consequences when they go to drunkenly attack someone?
Around half of prisoners
are repeat offenders, suggesting rehabilitation isn’t working. Plus, images of abuse in correctional facilities and stories of deaths in police custody make it hard to believe prison is in the criminal’s best interests.
Every time a criminal out on parole harms the community, people ask whether the system is actually keeping us safe.
But seeing criminals being punished gives victims, their loved ones and the wider community a sense of justice. It makes a clear statement about our common values and the kinds of behaviour we refuse to tolerate.
Are prisons the best way to deal with crime? Are they in need of reform? Or should we lock them up and throw away the key.
Keep an eye out as we finalise details for a fresh debate about criminal justice in Australia.
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