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Senate to investigate new approach on crime

Media Release
Penny Wright 26 Nov 2012

A new and more economically responsible approach to crime in Australia will be examined by a Senate Inquiry following the success today of a motion by Australian Greens spokesperson on Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright.

The Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee will investigate growing imprisonment rates and the benefits of implementing a Justice Reinvestment approach.

"Our justice system, as it stands, is not producing safer communities and it is time for a new strategy," Senator Wright said.

"In the past 30 years, the proportion of Australians in prison has been growing four times faster than our population to the point where we now spend $3 billion a year keeping people in prison. This is too costly, both in human and monetary terms.

"We will always need prisons for the most serious offenders but Justice Reinvestment is about reducing crime and imprisonment by addressing the causes of crime where it is most likely to occur. It has had bipartisan support in many areas of the United States because of the economic savings that come from this 'front end' approach."

The Senate Inquiry will also examine the longstanding over-representation of Indigenous Australians in the criminal justice system.

"Indigenous Australians are starkly over-represented in our jails, and re-imprisonment rates remain high. Recent data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare confirms that young Indigenous Australians are particularly at risk.

 "The Australian Greens have been campaigning for a smarter approach to crime for some time and this inquiry will be a great opportunity to see if Justice Reinvestment can work in Australia," Senator Wright said.

More information about justice reinvestment can be found here and here. The terms of reference for the Inquiry can be found here.

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