Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

Re-offending on parole

Don Weatherburn and Clare Ringland

Crime and Justice Bulletin no. 178

Sydney, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, August 2014

Release Date:    11 September 2014

Full report [pdf, 785kb]                

Summary

Few studies in Australia have focused on those who re-offend during their parole period following release from prison. Analysing data from almost 10,000 offenders released on parole in New South Wales, this paper looks at the rate of re-offending and re-imprisonment on parole. It examines the demographic and offence characteristics that predict whether a person re-offends on parole.

Aim: To measure the rate of re-offending on parole and identify the predictors of both general and violent offending on parole. To describe the types of offences committed on parole.

Method: The analysis was based on 9,604 offenders released on parole in 2010 or 2011. Multinomial logistic regression was used to identify demographic and criminal history characteristics independently associated with re-offending or re-imprisonment while on parole.

Results: Just under 61 per cent (60.8%) of parolees neither re-offended nor were re-imprisoned during their parole period. About twenty-eight per cent (28.4%) of the sample re-offended on parole. A further 10.8 per cent were re-imprisoned on parole without having first re-offended. Approximately 7 per cent (7.1%) of the sample committed a violent offence on parole. Parolees were more likely to offend on parole if they were male; Indigenous; young; had spent less than 180 days in prison (during the current episode); had a higher Level of Service Inventory - Revised score had a non drug offence as their principal offence; had six or more prior court appearances, had been imprisoned before; or had a prior conviction for drug use and/or possession. The correlates of violent re-offending on parole were very similar but also included prior conviction for a serious violent offence. Those who re-offended on parole committed a broad spectrum of offences, including: break and enter, assault, possess illicit drugs, receive/handle proceeds of crime, drive while licence disqualified, breach apprehended violence order and property damage.

Conclusion: Offending on parole is less common than previous studies have suggested. Future research should focus on three issues: whether it is possible to improve the accuracy of the parole risk assessment process; whether post release supervision/support reduces the risk of re-offending following release from prison; and whether offenders released to parole are less likely to re-offend if released to parole by the State Parole Authority than if released on parole by a court.

Keywords: re-offending, recidivism, parole, imprisonment, offenders