Justice Reinvestment

Over the last 30 years, the number of people in Australian prisons has tripled to around 30,000. This places a massive $3 billion cost-burden on Australian taxpayers every year.

In reality, the real price of prison is much higher. Offending and imprisonment have enormous social costs for victims and offenders, their families and their communities.

We can be smarter with the way we spend this money, by investing in stronger communities.

It’s also the way we can bring down the shameful rates of indigenous incarceration in Australia. Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are less than three per cent of the population, they make up more than a quarter of all those in jail. And for young people it’s even worse.

Justice Reinvestment is a new but proven approach to criminal justice spending. The success of Justice Reinvestment in the United States has shown it is possible to have both fewer people in prison and less crime.

The Greens want to see Justice Reinvestment adopted here in Australia too. Our senate inquiry recommended the Federal Government take action now.

We've created a plan to establish a National Centre for Justice Reinvestment and fund pilot programs. You can read the full plan here. 

Justice Reinvestment can:

• reduce crime and improve public safety,
• strengthen communities, and
• save money.

Win, Win, Win.

Justice Reinvestment - What is it?

Rather than spending more and more money warehousing offenders after their crimes have been committed, the focus of Justice Reinvestment is strengthening communities to prevent crime from happening in the first place.

Many offenders come from, and return to, a small number of disadvantaged communities. Justice Reinvestment shifts some of the money allocated for future imprisonment to these high-needs communities to fund programs which address the underlying causes of crime.

Justice Reinvestment is not a one size fits all approach. It combines rigorous data analysis and community input to develop practical policies that really address a community’s needs and the underlying causes of crime.

What Justice Reinvestment is NOT

Justice Reinvestment is not about getting rid of prisons all together. Prisons will always be needed to protect the community from serious and dangerous offenders. It sits alongside in-prison programs and does not replace them. Providing appropriate levels of treatment, education and vocational training is essential to break the cycle of re-offending.

Time for new thinking in Australia

It is definitely time to embrace targeted and evidence-based solutions to crime that will make our communities safer now and in the future. The Federal Government has a significant role to play in driving reform across every state and territory.

You can download our factsheet on Justice Reinvestment here:

2012 justice reinvestment fact sheet - a four step process (pdf)
2012 justice reinvestment infographic (pdf)

Latest on Justice Reinvestment


Federal Government must lead new approach to tackle Aboriginal incarceration

02 Jun 2015

The Australian Greens say the release of an Amnesty International report into Indigenous incarceration should restart a national conversation about Justice Reinvestment as an alternative to "lock 'em up" prison culture.


A smarter, fairer justice system

05 Mar 2015

Senator Wright speaks about the Australian Greens vision for a fairer, smarter justice system for all Australians and the urgent steps must be taken now by this government to get us there.


Closing the gap in mental health and justice

12 Feb 2015

Senator Wright speaks to the  Close the gap: progress and priorities report 2014 and the need to improve mental health and justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.


Commending SA Red Cross Step Out program

14 May 2014

Senator Penny Wright speaks about the wonderful work of the SA Red Cross Step Out peer mentoring program. 

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