Author Don Weatherburn
Published February 2018
Report Type Affiliated publication
Subject Drugs and Drug Courts; Policing; Prisons and prisoners; Socioeconomic factors and crime
Keywords Child sexual assault, family violence, illicit drugs, imprisonment rates, penal policy, policing policy

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The period between 2002 and 2016 saw substantial reductions in a number of major categories of crime in Australia, including murder, robbery, break and enter, motor vehicle theft and ‘other’ theft. One might expect the Australian imprisonment rate to have fallen too, but it did not. Over the same period, the Australian imprisonment rate grew by 36%. Most commentators assume the growth in imprisonment rates is due to the growth in punitive penal policies. Little attention has been paid to the influence of crime and policing policy. In this article I present evidence that much of the growth in imprisonment rates stems from rising rates of drug use/drug trafficking and changes in policing policy vis-à-vis family violence and child sexual assault.