Why is the NSW prison population growing?

15 May 2014

This paper provides a preliminary analysis of the rapid rise in the NSW prison population from January 2013 to March 2014.

Method: Descriptive analysis of court, crime, arrest and correctional data, and ARIMA modelling of prison trends.

Results: The key factors responsible for the recent rise in the NSW prison population appear to be a higher rate of arrest for serious crime and an increase in the proportion of convicted offenders given a prison sentence. There is no evidence that prisoners during 2013 are spending longer in custody but there is evidence the length of stay in custody may increase over the coming year. If the current trend in inmate numbers continues, the NSW prison population will rise by another 17 per cent (i.e., to about 12,500 inmates) by March 2015.

Conclusion: Early consideration should be given to measures that reduce the demand for prison accommodation and/or expand prison capacity.

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