Queensland’s Rising Incarceration Rate Calls For Criminal Justice Overhaul


Queenslanders are facing a massive increase in criminal justice costs but without any promise the spending will lead to safer communities.

This is the key finding of a new Queensland Productivity Commission report on incarceration and reoffending.

The report shows a radical rise in the number of Queenslanders going to prison. The incarceration rate, meaning the proportion of adults who are in prison, has risen 44 per cent since 2012.

There are more than 9000 offenders in Queensland prisons, which are at 130 per cent capacity.

On average, each prisoner costs state taxpayers $107,000 per year. This works out to about $900 million each year for incarceration. What’s more, the report estimates that taxpayers are on the hook for up to $6.5 billion in new prison construction. That sort of money can buy a lot of schools and roads. Or hire more police.

Of course, by themselves these numbers do not tell the whole story. If every extra dollar makes us safer, then these are dollars well-spent.

But there is growing evidence that prison does not always increase community safety.

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