Reports, research and evaluations of justice reinvestment at home and abroad

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Community and place-based

What next for place-based initiatives to tackle disadvantage?
Pulling together the findings from many place-based initiatives across Australia, this Brotherhood of St Laurence report provides a thought starter about how the public policy environment can foster new place-based approaches. It highlights Australia’s focus on ‘postcode disadvantage’, arguing that tackling disadvantage requires place-based interventions alongside broader system-level reforms. A table on several placed-based initiatives is provided which examines the duration, location, context, focus and outcome of the programs.

A snapshot of place-based activity promoting children’s wellbeing
The report from the Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne seeks to better promote children’s wellbeing through looking at who is driving, doing and supporting place-based approaches. The report considers Australian child-focused place-based policies as well as initiatives and collaborations undertaken by key organisations.  Two tables provide a snapshot into the promotion of child wellbeing through place-based initiatives. They look at driving policies, leading practice in communities, contributing research and strategic coordination organisations and initiatives and key organisations which support planning, implementation and research into place-based approaches to improve children’s outcomes.

It takes a village to raise a child: Local government, local communities, local youth
The Victorian Local Governance Association  (VLGA) argues that local governments have a deep knowledge of their communities which enables them to be effective advocates. They are able to be more responsive, relevant and proactive on behalf of their communities than other levels of government. Despite this the VLGA admits that local governments have not taken an active role in education matters despite it being a central factor in healthy childhood development. This report lists the many partnership projects and funding available for local government and lists a range of case studies  to demonstrate how local governments can use education to improve the social and economic factors in their area.

Flourishing communities: Taking lessons from place-based approaches, justice reinvestment and social cohesion

Jesuit Social Services’ position paper surmises the literature on three approaches to creating safer communities in Australia. These three strategies include place-based approaches, justice reinvestment and social cohesion. It highlights how investing money into prisons is not making our communities safer and discusses how the three approaches reveal the ‘better use’ to which the money could be spent.

Research and discussion papers

Incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples discussion paper– Justice Reinvestment  
The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) released a discussion paper concerning the imprisonment rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which dedicated a chapter to justice reinvestment. It specifically references the Maranguka Project in Bourke, NSW, and other reports about justice reinvestment. It asks if any further reforms to laws and legal frameworks can facilitate such initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and emphasises the need for community-led collaboration and whole-of-government responses.

Cost effectiveness analysis of a ‘justice reinvestment’ approach to Queensland’s youth justice services
This paper prepared on behalf of the Pro Bono Centre within the School of Law at the University of Queensland provides an economic evaluation of youth justice reinvestment in Queensland. This paper estimates that a ‘business as usual’ approach to corrective services, youth justice services and community through 2015-2030 would be $8.7 billion. It argues that an upfront investment of $10 million over four years and a focus on justice reinvestment could save up to $263 million in the same timeframe.

Insights from the coalface: The value of justice reinvestment for young Australians
This report from the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) notes that the rates of both incarceration and remand of young people is rising and that most young people in contact with the justice system are among the nation’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged. This report calls for the creation of alternative pathways through a justice reinvestment framework.

Starting the Youth Justice Reinvestment Conversation in Victoria
In June 2015, Smart Justice For Young People partnered with the Centre for Rural Regional Law and Justice at Deakin University to host an exploration of youth justice reinvestment, investigating its potential application and benefits for Victorian communities.

Justice Reinvestment Youth Action policy paper
Youth Action’s policy paper examines the theory underpinning justice reinvestment and considers how it can be applied in a New South Wales context, comparing the context with Texas before the US state pioneered the approach. The paper also looks briefly at the national and international history of justice reinvestment.

Read about practical implementation of Justice Reinvestment projects in Indigenous communities here.

Government reports

Investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria
The Victorian Ombudsman’s report is critical of the increasing rate of imprisonment in Victoria and advocates for an increase in access to rehabilitation programs. It recommends a whole-of-government approach to shift the focus to reduce offending and recidivism and to promote the rehabilitation of offenders. The Ombudsman notes that reducing imprisonment rates will inevitably require an increase in funding for a number of years, until the results of new measures are realised. However, she concludes that over time there should be substantial savings for the Victorian community, both financially and in terms of community safety.

Building a stronger society:  a Discussion Paper on Social Impact Investment
This South Australian Government paper explores the opportunities for social impact investment. It discusses the potential benefits and changes facing social impact bonds and areas where they could be applied in South Australia. It also considers how social impact bonds can provide an integrated approach to tackling recidivism. It argues that such investments are not a way of ‘outsourcing’ public funds but a means for private investors to share the risks of innovative programs and services.

Community Crime Prevention Review
This review conducted by Victoria’s Parliamentary Secretary for Justice Ben Carroll considers the effectiveness of the Community Crime Prevention Program in supporting communities to prevent crime. It notes evidence that better outcomes can be achieved in community crime prevention where government works in partnership with communities and looks at local, national and international evidence that supports best practice community prevention. Overall, the review concludes that the program is delivering an effective and efficient approach to sustainable crime prevention.

Value of a Justice Reinvestment approach to criminal justice in Australia
The report of the 2013 Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee inquiry provides an in-depth look at justice re-investment in Australia and includes a list of recommendations. Here is a brief guide to its chapters:

  • Chapter 2: what is driving the growth in Australia’s imprisonment rate
  • Chapter 3: economic and social costs of imprisonment
  • Chapter 4: over-representation of disadvantaged groups within Australian prisons
  • Chapter 5: methodology and objectives of justice reinvestment as well the implementation of justice reinvestment in overseas jurisdictions
  • Chapter 6: benefits of a justice reinvestment approach for Australia
  • Chapter 7: challenges to implementing a justice reinvestment approach in Australia
  • Chapter 8: mechanisms to implement justice reinvestment in Australia.

Research and statistics on youth crime

#JusticeSolutions Tour
Jesuit Social Services undertook an international study tour to look outside of Australia for successful youth justice systems. This report outlines the findings from the study tour and the vision Jesuit Social Services has for youth justice in Australia. It highlights the importance of crime prevention and targeting the underlying causes of crime.

Youth justice review and strategy: meeting needs and reducing offending
This review marks the first independent review into Victoria’s youth justice system in 16 years. It was conducted by Penny Armytage, former Secretary of the Department of Justice and Regulation, and Professor James Ogloff AM, Director of the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science at Swinburne University. It examines the challenges and issues affecting the system, from a community and custodial perspective and looks at the weaknesses in the legislative framework, governance and administration. The review also calls for an evidence-based response to youth offending and youth crime that addresses the needs of young people and the broader Victorian community.

Is our youth justice system really broken? 
This article from Victoria Legal Aid is critical of sensationalist news reporting about a youth crime ‘crisis’ in Victoria, noting that youth crime rates have actually fallen over the past ten years.

Developing a linked data collection to report on the relationships between child protection and youth justice supervision
The report prepared by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare notes that young people who have experienced abuse or neglect are more likely to commit offences than those who have not. The report sets out a system where child protection and youth justice data can be used to see relationships between child protection and youth justice supervision. The report explains that this would assist support staff, case workers and policy makers to achieve optimal outcomes for children and young people, and for their families.

Dropping Off The Edge 2015
Funded by Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services Australia, the report is a summary of the persistent disadvantages experienced by a small number of communities in Australia and the impact that can have on opportunities in life.

It uses 22 indicators such as housing stress and education to study the geographic distribution of disadvantage across Australian states and territories, seeking to provide a postcode snapshot of what attributes contribute to high disadvantage and to explore patterns of connections between the indicators.

Read more:
Dropping Off The Edge 2015 Factsheet
Dropping Off The Edge 2015 Summary

Research from Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency
Statement: Latest crime statistics give unique insights into victims and alleged offenders (29 September 2016).
What outcomes do police record for young alleged offenders in Victoria?
New fact sheet: changes in youth crime over the past decade

Patterns of recorded offending behaviour: research paper
This 2016 research paper analyses the patterns of youth offending, using a new statistical technique to highlight that sub-populations follow different offending trajectories. While the research focuses on identifying trajectory groups and key characteristics, it includes a preliminary discussion of how criminal justice intervention may impact the course of offending behaviour. It calls for further research to identify whether particular life events or characteristics trigger escalation or desistance from offending across the identified groups.

Trends and Issues – Estimating The Costs Associated With Community Justice
This paper published by the Australian Institute of Criminology seeks to address the ‘value for money debate’ regarding community justice programs. It compares the operating costs of the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) in the City of Yarra in Melbourne with more traditional court and service delivery models.

The results show that there are areas in which the NJC appears to be more cost-efficient. The AIC says the results also show, perhaps unexpectedly, that community justice models incur additional costs over and above those of normal magistrates’ courts. However, it notes that when read alongside a corresponding paper – Evaluating Neighbourhood Justice: measuring and attributing outcomes for a community justice program, which evaluates the impact of the NJC on order compliance and reoffending, it is apparent that this additional investment contributes to a number of important outcomes.

More on the Neighbourhood Justice Centre here.

Sentencing Children in Victoria
The Sentencing Advisory Council in Victoria updated select data from the Council’s 2012 report Sentencing Children and Young People in Victoria for the six calendar years from 2010 to 2015 (inclusive). The Council has also prepared a fact sheet on the report’s key findings.
Sentencing Children in Victoria Data Update Report 2016
Sentencing Children in Victoria Fact Sheet

Jesuit Social Services’ States of Justice Report
Despite the rate of offenders in Australia remaining steady over the past five years, the national imprisonment rate has jumped by an alarming 25 per cent – resulting in a staggering spike in the cost of prisons by almost a billion dollars (to a total of $3.8 billion) during the same period.

The analysis is included in Jesuit Social Services’ report, States of Justice: Criminal Justice Trends Across Australia, a comprehensive snapshot of criminal justice trends in all states and territories.