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At the time of this audit, the NSW Department of Justice (DOJ) was responsible for delivering custodial corrections services in New South Wales through its Corrective Services NSW division (Corrective Services NSW). From 1 July 2019, the Department of Family and Community Services and Justice will be responsible for these functions.

Within DOJ, Corrective Services NSW is responsible for administering sentences and legal orders through custodial and community-based management of adult offenders. Its key priorities are:

  • providing safe, secure and humane management of prisoners
  • reducing reoffending
  • improving community safety and confidence in the justice system.

The prison population in New South Wales grew by around 40 per cent between 2012 to 2018, from 9,602 to 13,630 inmates. This rate of growth was higher than experienced prior to 2012. DOJ forecasts growth to continue over the short and longer-term.

DOJ has responded to inmate population growth by doubling-up and tripling-up the number of prison beds in cells, reactivating previously closed prisons, and a $3.8 billion program of new prison capacity. DOJ has also developed a long-term prison infrastructure strategy that projects long-term needs and recommended investments to meet these needs.

This audit assessed how efficiently and effectively DOJ is responding to growth in the NSW prison population. In this report, we have not analysed the sources of demand or recommended ways that custody may be avoided. These are largely government policy issues.

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