Australian Institute of Criminology

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Media Release

20 May 1999

Media release from Senator, the Hon Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Justice and Customs

Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone, today released a report from the Australian Institute of Criminology which suggests that rehabilitation programs are often a better bet for offenders than punitive approaches. The report, The Rehabilitation of Offenders: International Perspectives Applied to Australian Correctional Systems, by Kevin Howells and Andrew Day, is No. 112 in the series Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice.

"The study presents evidence that offenders who attend rehabilitation programs re-offend 10 to 36 per cent less than those who do not," Senator Vanstone said.

"Anti-social attitudes and feelings, a lack of self-control and/or a lack of problem solving skills, along with substance abuse can all be addressed by well designed rehabilitation programs, leading to reductions in re-offending."

"The study shows that the most effective programs target factors which are both amendable to change and directly related to criminal offending."

"Programs based on sound psychological principles have been developed in the areas of drug and alcohol use, anger management and violent behaviour, and sexual offending, as well as general offending."

"It is important that program characteristics be matched with offenders and settings. Optimal rehabilitation outcomes are produced by finding the right program for the right person."

"In the 1970s and 1980s it became fashionable to say that nothing works in offender rehabilitation, we now know that this is wrong."