Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

High risk prisoners receiving better rehabilitation programs

Media Release

20 May 2011

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) today released a report: Prison-based correctional rehabilitation showing that correctional services around Australia have, over the past six years, improved their rehabilitation programs for moderate to high risk prisoners such as sex offenders and violent criminals.

At the same time, the development of high intensity programs specifically designed for women, Indigenous Australians and intellectually disabled offenders has been slower.

Australia’s prison population continues to grow at a rate that is four times that of the general population. The current imprisonment rate (170 per 100,000 population) well exceeds the rate found across Scandinavia, Western Europe, Canada, England and Wales, and New Zealand.

According to one of the report’s authors, Deakin University’s Professor Andrew Day, correctional administrators in Australia have recently invested significant resources into the development and delivery of programs targeted at rehabilitating moderate to high-risk prisoners.

“In 2004 an audit of Australian offender rehabilitation programs called upon each jurisdiction to further develop programs.  Jurisdictions, almost uniformly, have responded to this challenge and developed a number of more of intensive rehabilitation programs for moderate to high-risk offenders,” Mr Day said.

“All jurisdictions currently offer programs aimed at reducing the likelihood of reoffending for those assessed as at high risk of committing further offences upon release from custody.

“Australian jurisdictions routinely provide high intensity sexual offender programs for moderate to high-risk sexual offenders, with the primary aim of reducing the likelihood of sexual reoffending,” he said.

The report found that there is, however, a paucity of published research on the success of violent offender programs, both in Australia and internationally and this needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

The report found that newer programs rolled out since 2004 are of a generally high standard, are well-embedded within correctional case management systems and are consistent with evidence-based principles of offender rehabilitation.

“It is likely that the programs will have a positive impact on recidivism rates, although it is very important to keep evaluating the program outcomes,” Mr Day said.

AIC media contact: Colin Campbell 02 6260 9244 / 0418 159 525