Understanding the wider costs associated with different sentencing options can be helpful in informing effective correctional policy and practice. Yet relatively few studies have attempted to estimate the wider costs or savings associated with pathways through imprisonment or community corrections.
Corrections Victoria commissioned the Australian Institute of Criminology to calculate the total net cost of pathways through imprisonment and community corrections in Victoria, taking into account a range of direct and indirect costs and savings associated with a matched cohort of prisoners and offenders for whom an imprisonment or community based order was equally viable.
This summary paper outlines the key findings of the study. The findings indicate that both prisoners and offenders spend considerable time with the corrections system and incur significant costs to the individual, government and broader community. However, whether over a short or longer term period, imprisonment still represents a significantly more costly sentencing option - costing almost three times more than community corrections over a five-year period.
A more detailed analysis was published by the Australian Institute of Criminology in a Research Report which was released on 24 April 2018.