Does a prison sentence affect future domestic violence reoffending?

14 Jun 2016

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.

Publication Details
2204-5538 (Online)
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