The Auditor-General, Mr Peter Achterstraat, today released his report on home detention in NSW.
Home detention is a viable alternative to prison for less serious crimes, such as those involving traffic offences. It is tough on offenders, cheaper than fulltime prison, and most offenders complete their sentence without having to go to prison.
“Despite these benefits, very few offenders are sentenced to home detention. In 2008-09, the daily average number of people on home detention was 175. A decline of almost one quarter since 2002-03,” stated Mr Achterstraat.
“At the time I commenced my audit, home detention was only available in the Sydney metropolitan area, Newcastle and Wollongong,” Mr Achterstraat stated. “Home detention is now being promoted in some regional areas and is planned to expand to others,” he added.
The welfare of the general community depends on making sure only those suitable are allowed home detention. Once on the program offenders need to be properly monitored and supervised, something that has varied in the past.
“We found there were not enough field visits when offenders are on approved activities outside of the home, such as work or attending treatment. Testing for drug use also varied and is generally low. There are also differences in how breaches of home detention conditions are managed,” said Mr Achterstraat.
“It is pleasing that following my audit, field visits and drug testing standards have improved,” he added.
The net operating cost for an offender on home detention is $47 per day compared to about $187 for an offender in a minimum/medium security prison. For an average sentence of six months for 175 offenders, this represents a saving of about $4.4 million for NSW.
Mr Achterstraat is encouraged that Corrective Services NSW has started on his recommendations of:
making home detention available right across NSW
encouraging courts to use home detention in appropriate cases
maintaining a high level of control over the offenders on the program.
Barry Underwood, Executive Officer, on 9275 7220/0403 073 664 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org