In 2011, the NSW Government asked the NSW Law Reform Commission to complete a review of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act. This piece of legislation outlines the available sentences for criminal offences and outlines the considerations the Court must take into court when deciding on sentence.
Fast forward to 24 September 2018 and we will see the introduction of sentencing reform in NSW. The aim? To ensure greater supervision for high risk offenders, greater protection for the community and give broader sentencing options before an offender is given a full-time gaol sentence.
The most recent BOCSAR report published in July 2018 indicates the adult prison population has grown by 4.1% in the last year alone, with the increase attributable to steady growth in prisoners on remand (unconvicted prisoners awaiting trial or sentence) and sentenced prisoners.
So, what is coming instead of the current sentencing options? In short, we will see two new types of orders. At the lower end of the severity scale, a Conditional Release Order (“CRO”) which can last for a maximum of 2 years. Next is a Community Corrections Order (“CCO”) which can last for a maximum of 3 years. The existing Intensive Corrections Order (“ICO”) is being expanded and can last for up to 2 years for a single offence or 3 years for aggregate or accumulated sentences. In addition, some existing sentences will be converted, as follows:
Existing sentence Converted sentence
Home Detention Order New ICO with home detention condition
Intensive Correction Order New ICO
Community Service Order New CCO with community service condition
Section 9 good behaviour bond New CCO
Section 10(1)(b) bond New CRO
Suspended sentences under section 12 will not be converted and will remain in force unless revoked. The offender will then be either re-sentenced to full-time imprisonment or re-sentenced to the new ICO. This may have serious consequences for offenders who were initially sentenced for an offence which is considered ‘excluded’ from availability for an ICO. For example, discharge of a firearm.
Each of the new orders will have standard conditions which provide for no further offences to be committed and a requirement to attend Court, if ordered, during the term of the order. The Court may impose additional conditions, such as abstention from alcohol or drugs, non-association and participation in a program. Further conditions may be imposed, either by request of the offender or by order of the Court.
In addition, Pre-Sentence Reports will now be called Sentence Assessment Reports and will be required before orders for home detention or community service can be considered. A report will usually be required before making an ICO, unless the Court is satisfied it has sufficient information to make the Order without a report.
Will the NSW prison population decrease as a result of the new reforms? We will have to wait and see.
Information provided is general in nature only and should not be taken as legal advice. For legal advice, please contact the office to make an appointment.