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Jail up; crime down does not justify Australia becoming an incarceration nation

Bagaric, Mirko and Pathinayake, Athula 2015, Jail up; crime down does not justify Australia becoming an incarceration nation, Australian bar review, vol. 40, pp. 64-96.

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Title Jail up; crime down does not justify Australia becoming an incarceration nation
Author(s) Bagaric, Mirko
Pathinayake, AthulaORCID iD for Pathinayake, Athula
Journal name Australian bar review
Volume number 40
Start page 64
End page 96
Total pages 33
Publisher LexisNexis
Place of publication Sydney, N.S.W.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 0814-8589
Summary The imprisonment rate in Australia is at unprecedented high levels, both interms of actual prisoner numbers and the rate at which it is increasing. Forthe first time in recorded history the incarceration rate in Australia has morethan doubled in less than 25 years. Prison is the harshest form ofpunishment in our system of justice and imposes considerable hardship onoffenders. It also comes at a considerable financial cost to the community.Accordingly, the surge in prisoner numbers is a significant macro social,economic and legal development. The increase did not occur pursuant to anoverarching strategic plan and is an area that is under-researched. Theprison population increase has arisen as a result of a ‘tough on crime’approach that continues without any sign of abatement. The use ofimprisonment should only be increased if there is a demonstrable benefit tothe community. This article examines whether there is a sound rationalebehind the rising trend in prison numbers. The increasing incarceration ratehas coincided with a significant reduction in the crime rate. A causalconnection between the two events (increased prisoner numbers andreduced crime) could constitute a powerful argument in favour of the surgein prison numbers. However, an examination of the empirical data inAustralia fails to demonstrate even a tenable link between these events. Wealso conclude that at the theoretical level there is no rationale for theincreased use of imprisonment. If the imprisonment rate continues to rise,there is a risk of a prison and financial crisis similar to that currently beingexperienced in the United States, which has resulted in an extremecounter-reaction in the form of a retrospective reduction of some prison terms.
Language eng
Field of Research 160202 Correctional Theory, offender Treatment and Rehabilitation
Socio Economic Objective 940403 Criminal Justice
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
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Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Law
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