Does a prison sentence affect future domestic violence reoffending?

Family violence Prison sentences Recidivism Suspended sentences New South Wales
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New research by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) shows that prison is no more effective in deterring domestic violence (DV) offenders than a suspended sentence.

BOCSAR compared 1,612 matched pairs of DV offenders, one of whom received a prison sentence of 12 months or less and the other of whom received a suspended sentence of two years or less.

The offenders were carefully matched on a wide range of factors, including age, Indigenous status, offence type(s), whether in custody in the last five years, level of socioeconomic disadvantage, legal representation, results of risk assessment instruments (LSI-R), past breaches of apprehended violence orders and the number and type of prior convictions.

The number of ‘free’ days before the first new proven DV-related offence was then compared across the two matched groups. No significant difference was observed in DV-related reoffending between those who were given a prison sentence and those who were given a suspended sentence.

After one year in the community, 20.3% of people given a suspended sentence and 20.3% of people given a prison sentence had at least one new DV-related offence. After three years in the community, the proportions were 34.2% and 32.3% respectively. These were not significantly different.

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