The Victorian Parliament has recently introduced a Bill which implements home detention as a sentencing option. Home detention is an intuitively appealing reform. The logic behind the proposal seems obvious. Prisons are expensive to run. There are too many offenders in prison. So let's take the cost out of prison by turning the homes of offenders into prisons: classic, user-pays, cost-shifting economics. The level of superficial appeal of the argument in favour of home detention is matched only by the depth of the fallacies underpinning some of the fundamental premises. The most basic of which is the assumption that offenders who are candidates for the new sanction should be in detention (of any kind) in the first place. Further, the narrow objective of reducing imprisonment is misguided. It should not be elevated to a cardinal sentencing objective?otherwise total success could be achieved by simply opening the prison gates. There are also other concerns about the appropriateness of home detention. The degree of pain it inflicts in many cases is questionable and it may also violate the principle that punishment should not be inflicted on the innocent. After examining the arguments for and against home detention, this article suggests the approach that should be adopted to achieve enlightened and meaningful sentencing reform.
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