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CJB136

Author Rohan Lulham, Don Weatherburn and Lorana Bartels
Published September 2009
Report Type Crime and Justice Bulletin No. 136
Subject Diversion; Policing; Recidivism / Re-offending; Sentencing; Statistical methods and modelling; Evaluation reports
Keywords suspended sentences, deterrence, re-offending, propensity score matching, survival analysis

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Summary

Aim

In this study we compare rates of re-offending among offenders who received suspended sentences with rates of re-offending among a matched control group who received a full-time prison sentence.

Abstract

Between 2000 and 2007, the number of suspended sentences imposed by the NSW Local Court rose 300 per cent, from 1,704 to 5,172. In 2000, suspended sentences accounted for about one per cent of all penalties imposed by the NSW Local Court. By 2007, this figure had risen to 4.6 per cent. One issue of contention is whether suspended sentences have the same deterrent effect on re-offending as prison sentences. In this study we compare rates of re-offending among offenders who received suspended sentences with rates of re-offending among a matched control group who received a full-time prison sentence. For offenders with no prior prison sentence, there was no statistically significant difference in re-offending between offenders who received a suspended sentence and those who received a prison sentence. Among offenders who had previously been to prison, however, those who received a prison sentence re-offended substantially quicker than those who received a suspended sentence. We conclude that there is no evidence full-time imprisonment exerts a greater deterrent effect than a suspended sentence of imprisonment.

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