What happens if Victoria’s prison population keeps growing at its current rate

Victoria’s prison population has almostdoubled over the last decade.

It is gone from 4500 to just under 9000. The prison population is growing faster than the general adult population which increased by 24% over this period. 

The rate of imprisonment has increased from 62 prisoners per 100,000 Victorian adults in 2000 to 118 per 100,000 in 2018, an increase of 90%.

The Andrews Government has earmarked $1.8 billion in the budget for capital spending on prisons, the centrepiece of which is a  new 1248-bed prison planned for outside Geelong. The Andrews government expects prisoner numbers to soar from 8110 today to 11,130 by June 2022. 

If prison numbers continue growing at the current rate, there are some implications for prison capacity in the next decade.

Modelling indicates that if prison numbers continue to rise as they have over the last decade they will reach 16,000 by 2030. Prison capacity is scheduled to rise to 12,800 by 2022. The modelling indicates that prison capacity will be reached by 2027.

This will leave the shortfall of 2800 by the end of the decade.

That’s two new prisons, both bigger than the $1.8 billion one planned for 2022. And both bigger than Victoria’s current largest prison, Ravenhall.

It’s probably time for a rethink of justice policy in Victoria.

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