Evaluation of the Bail Amendment (Repeat Offenders) Act 2002
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In July 2002 legislation commenced in New South Wales which removed the presumption in favour of bail for various classes of repeat offender. This paper considers the impact of the bail amendments in the eighteen months since their commencement. It examines their impact on the rate at which different classes of defendant are refused bail, the remand population and the rate of absconding.
In July 2002 legislation commenced in New South Wales which removed the presumption in favour of bail for various classes of repeat offender. Since then the bail refusal rate for defendants appearing in New South Wales criminal courts has increased by seven per cent. The increase is greatest among defendants targeted by the amendments, including those with prior convictions (up 10.3%), those appearing for an indictable offence with an indictable prior conviction (up 7.3%) and defendants who have previously failed to appear (up 15.5%). There has been no change in the bail refusal rate for defendants without a prior conviction or for juvenile defendants. The bail refusal rate for Indigenous adults increased 14.4 per cent, which is greater than the increase for non-Indigenous adults (up 7.0%). This may be due to the high proportion of Indigenous defendants who have a prior conviction. Since the bail amendments the rate of absconding has fallen by 18.4 per cent in the Local Courts and by 46.4 per cent in the Higher Courts.