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Criminal justice system—prison sentences



Achieving intended sentence outcomes depends on how efficiently and effectively the court's prison sentence is administered.

Some sentence calculations are simple. Others are more complex, involving considerations such as multiple convictions, specific sentence requirements under various State and/or Commonwealth legislation, and consideration of time the prisoner has served on remand awaiting trial (known as presentence custody). If those who calculate the sentence get it wrong, they can expose the community to risk by releasing prisoners early into the community (called a discharge in error) or infringe on prisoners' rights by holding them longer than they are legally entitled to (called an unlawful detention).

Sentencing errors also expose the state to unnecessary costs associated with managing prisoners beyond their sentence, locating and returning prisoners released in error, and managing complaints, compensation, and legal costs.

This audit examined how well the Queensland criminal justice system exchanges and records data to calculate and administer custodial (prison) sentences accurately. We focused on the public sector entities carrying out sentences. We did not consider the decisions and sentences of magistrates and judges as part of the audit.

This is the first of two reports from the criminal justice audit. The second report is due to be tabled in parliament in early 2017 and focuses on the integration and reliability of criminal justice data.

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