Despite declining crime rates, the imprisonment of Queenslanders is escalating. Concerning trends include the growth in the rate of imprisonment of women, which doubled the rate of men over the last ten years, and the significant and growing over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. These matters are not unique to Queensland and reflect wider Australian and international trends.
In direct financial terms, imprisonment costs the Queensland community almost a billion dollars every year. Its social costs, although harder to measure, are much greater. Incarceration has profound impacts on prisoners, their families and the community— loss of employment, housing, relationships, as well as mental health problems and potential criminogenic effects—all of which increase the risk of reoffending.
In this report, we ask whether community safety is best served by continuing the current approach.
- Is there a case for some crimes to be punished with non-custodial options?
- Could better outcomes be achieved with greater attention to rehabilitation and reintegration?
- Would some offences be better treated as medical issues than criminal offences?
- Should victims be empowered by building in restitution and restoration options?
Early indications are that the community may actually be made safer by reforming current practices, and we are seeking further information to allow us to complete the inquiry.
This report reflects the contributions of over 400 stakeholders, representing a broad cross-section of Queenslanders—government agencies, victim peak bodies, prisoner advocates, unions, the judiciary, corrections officers, prisoners, Indigenous peak bodies, and academics. We applaud the willingness of stakeholders to seek better outcomes for victims, offenders, and the community.