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CJB93

Author Don Weatherburn, Jiuzhao Hua and Steve Moffatt
Published January 2006
Report Type Crime and Justice Bulletin No. 93
Subject Prisons and prisoners; Sentencing
Keywords incapacitation, imprisonment, sentencing, crime reduction

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Summary

Aim

This bulletin presents the results of a study into the incapacitation effect of prison on burglary.

Abstract

This bulletin presents the results of a study into the incapacitation effect of prison on burglary. The results indicate that current levels of imprisonment in New South Wales (NSW) prevent approximately 45,000 burglaries per annum. Rates of burglary could be reduced if sentences for burglary were longer, a higher percentage of burglars were sent to prison or clear-up rates for burglary were higher. The effectiveness of these measures would be reduced, however, if they resulted in fewer guilty pleas, higher re-offending rates or the entry of more offenders into the stolen goods market. Increased use of imprisonment may not be a very cost-effective way of reducing burglary. To get a 10 per cent reduction in the current burglary rate via imprisonment the number of burglars sentenced to prison in NSW would have to be increased by at least 34 per cent. This would cost an additional $26 million per year. The bulletin concludes by calling for more research into the cost-effectiveness of prison and its alternatives in controlling crime.