NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell and Shadow Attorney General Greg Smith SC today announced a comprehensive plan to crackdown on re-offending rates in NSW, including the establishment of a second Drug Court in Sydney.
Mr O'Farrell explained the NSW Liberals & Nationals ambitious plan has the goal of reducing the re-offending rate to below the national average within ten years.
"The people of NSW are fed up with a corrective services system which merely acts as a 'revolving door' for offenders as they transition through a life of crime," Mr O'Farrell said.
"The NSW Liberals & Nationals are determined to treat crime at its source and this is why we have a comprehensive plan with the goal of reducing the rate of re-offending to below the national average within ten years," he said.
"NSW has the worst recidivism rate of any Australian State with more than 40 per cent of prisoners returning to gaol within two years."
A NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will:
1. Establish a second Drug Court in the Sydney metropolitan area including detoxification facilities, drug testing, monitoring and treatment;
2. Create a specialist Metropolitan Drug Treatment Facility to ensure up to 300 drug addicted prisoners get treatment and are given the opportunity to get off drugs;
3. Provide an additional $20 million over four years for education and training programs in prison; and,
4. Encourage greater use of non-custodial punishment for less serious offenders and create availability and access to diversionary programs.
Mr Smith said reducing re-offending makes sense.
"Every ex-prisoner who returns to gaol costs taxpayers and diverts resources which could be spent on more hospital beds, better public transport or fixing our roads," Mr Smith said.
Prisoners released during 2007-08 who returned to prison with a new correctional sanction within two years – Australian Productivity Commission, Report on Government Services 2011
NSW Vic Qld WA SA Tas Aust
Prisoners returning to prison 42.4% 33.7% 33.5% 38.3% 30.2% 31.7% 37.6%
"A NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will establish a second Sydney Drug Court with evidence showing drug offenders who participate in drug courts are less likely to re-offend," he said.
In 2008 the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR) found:
'...the Drug Court program is more effective than conventional sanctions in reducing the risk of recidivism among offenders whose crime is drug related'.
'...there is undoubtedly scope for another urban Drug Court.'
Compared with offenders who did not participate in the drug court program, drug court participants were 17 per cent less likely to be reconvicted for any offence, 30 per cent less likely to be reconvicted for a violent offence and 38 per cent less likely to be reconvicted for a drug offence at any point during the follow-up assessment period .
"Combined with our commitment to a dedicated Metropolitan Drug Treatment Facility, the NSW Liberals & Nationals plan to reduce recidivism has a strong focus on drug treatment and rehabilitation," Mr Smith said.
"The NSW Liberals & Nationals will also provide $20 million over four years for education and training programs in prisons.
"We are determined to provide prisoners with the education programs to improve their chances of rehabilitation.
"NSW Labor has failed to provide prisoners with the rehabilitation programs they need with the Auditor-General finding in 2006 that demand for programs far exceeded available places.
"But reducing re-offending rates is not just about rehabilitating those in prison, it is also about ensuring prison is only used as a last resort and for the appropriate crimes.
"Too many minor offenders end up in prison for short sentences which end up exposing them to a far worse network of serious offenders.
"We will seek to encourage the use of Intensive Correction Orders, home detention and increased access to rehabilitation programs as a condition of a non-custodial sentence.
"The NSW Liberals & Nationals are determined to reduce crime and make our homes and neighbourhoods safer," Mr Smith said.