Claire's cover image
Claire

Claire Seppings

Year of Award: 2015 Award State: Victoria Legal > Penal And Parole
Social Welfare > General
To study the rehabilitative role of ex-prisoners/offenders as peer mentors in reintegration models - UK, Ireland, Sweden, USA

The rate of recidivism in Australia is causing an ongoing and ever increasing burden on the taxpayer. It is causing risk to the community, disengagement of people from society, and lost human potential. On 31 January 2015, Victoria recorded its highest ever prisoner population of 6,506. Corrections Victoria anticipates Victoria’s prison population to be possibly as high as 8,600 by June 2019. Victoria’s recidivism rate is now at a record high of 44.1% [7*]. Since 2011, the budget for correctional services in Victoria has risen by 31% to $1.04 billion [8]. Nationally, the number of prisoners in adult corrective services custody increased from 30 June 2014 by 7% to 36,134 on 30 June 2015 [9]. Per capita, our spending on prisons costs every state and territory at least $80,000 to house each prisoner for a year [10]. Prison does not create the individual rehabilitative change funded to do so.

The Victorian Ombudsman’s recent report into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners stated that Victoria needs to ensure prisoners rehabilitation and reintegration improves public safety and provides better value for the $1 billion annual spend. The public expects violent offenders to serve time, but offenders must also be better coming out than when they went in if we are going to reduce crime. Re-offending rates are unlikely to improve without urgent action [11].

We now have the opportunity to do just that. My extensive professional and lived experience of the criminal justice system has given me deep insight of the system and commitment to drive reformative change. I pursued my Churchill Fellowship project to do just that. I have found the missing link in Australia is using the expert experience of those closest to the problem and valuing the reformative success stories to realise real reform.

 * To see footnotes, indicated in square brackets e.g. [7], please refer to the full report.

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