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​Media Release: NSW prison population forecasts

Full Report: NSW prison population forecasts (pdf 572Kb)

Release date: 10.30AM, Monday, 18 May 2015

The NSW prison population is likely to keep on growing and may climb as high as 17,600 by 2036, according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

The Bureau examined the future trajectory of the number of NSW adult prisoners under three different scenarios concerning age-specific rates of imprisonment (the age-specific rate of imprisonment is essentially the percentage of people in an age-group who are in prison). 

The first scenario assumed that the age-specific rates of imprisonment in NSW continue upward at the pace they have since 1982. In this case the NSW prison population is expected to reach 17,600 by 2036.

The second scenario assumed that the age-specific rates of imprisonment in NSW continue to change at the pace they have over the last ten years. In this case the NSW prison population is expected to reach 15,600 by 2036. 

The third scenario assumed that the age-specific rates of imprisonment remain constant. In this case the NSW prison population is expected to rise to 12,500 by 2036. 

The reason for prison population growth in the third scenario is that, even if the percentage of people in each age-group ending up in prison stays constant, population growth alone will produce a growth in the NSW prison population. 

Commenting on the findings, the director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that further prison population growth was inevitable unless some way is found to reduce the demand for prison accommodation. 

"The growth in imprisonment rates in NSW over the last 15 years has helped bring down the crime rate but there are other less expensive ways of reducing crime." 

The NSW Drug Court has shown that a well-designed and managed rehabilitation program can achieve significant reductions in offending without incurring the same high costs. 

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn – 8346 1100

Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au