Author Karen Freeman
Published March 2015
Report Type Bureau Brief No. 101
Subject Prisons and prisoners; Sentencing
Keywords New South Wales, criminal courts, bail outcome, sentence, imprisonment, trends

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To investigate whether the NSW Higher and Local Courts have become more lenient across a range of offence categories.


Examination of trends from 1994 to 2013 in bail outcomes, the use of imprisonment as a sanction for convicted offenders, and average length of prison sentence imposed for convicted offenders.


The NSW criminal courts have become more restrictive in the granting of bail; have increased their use of imprisonment for convicted offenders; and have lengthened average prison sentences across many offence types in the past two decades.


There is no evidence that the NSW criminal court have become more lenient overall in the past two decades; on the contrary, sentencing has become more severe in many offence categories.

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