Media Release: Parole Supervision and Re-offending

Re-offending on parole (pdf 785Kb)  
Parole Supervision and Re-offending: A propensity score matching analysis - AIC report: Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 485                 

Two new reports on parole
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research
Embargo: 10.30am, Thursday 11 September, 2014

Parole Supervision and Re-offending

New research by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has found strong evidence that offenders released from prison on parole are less likely to re-offend than offenders released from prison without any supervision.

The Bureau identified 2,019 offenders released from prison under parole supervision, matched them with 2,019 very similar offenders released from prison without parole, and then followed them up to see which group was more likely to re-offend.

The Bureau found that, 12 months after release, 48.6 per cent of the unsupervised offenders had re-offended, compared with 43.6 per cent of the supervised offenders. At 36 months, the comparative rates of re-offending were 70.3 per cent for the unsupervised group and 65.7 per cent for the supervised group.

Bureau researchers also found that parolees supervised more intensively were less likely to re-offend than those supervised less intensively, but here they found a catch. More intensive supervision by parole officers who also provided the normal rehabilitative support lowered the risk of re-offending but simply carrying out more intensive checks on compliance with the conditions of parole did not.

Re-offending on parole

In a separate study of nearly 10,000 offenders released to parole between 2010 and 2011, the Bureau found the rate of re-offending on parole is lower than previously thought.

Previous studies had suggested that more than 60 per cent of offenders released on parole re-offended within two years of release. Previous studies, however, made no distinction between re-offending by parolees (past and present) and re-offending while on parole.

The Bureau found only 28.4% re-offended while on parole. A further 10.8 per cent were re-imprisoned on parole for breaching the conditions of their parole. The majority of parolees (60.8 per cent) did not re-offend on parole and were not re-imprisoned for breaching parole.

The level of violent offending on parole is also lower than previously thought. Only 7.1 per cent of the sample released on parole was found guilty of having committed a violent offence while on parole.

Commenting on the findings, the director of the Bureau, said that they provided the first convincing evidence in Australia that parole is effective in reducing the risk of re-offending. "The message that comes through loud and clear from this research is that the parole process is a valuable tool when it comes to reducing the risk of further offending," he said.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190

Copies of the report: