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Criminal Justice System Monitor

NCJ Number
Date Published
20 pages
Statistics indicate that personal and property crime rates in Queensland, Australia, have been fairly stable in recent years and that crime levels in Queensland, as measured by police crime data and crime and safety surveys, are generally around the national average.
Queensland's prison population, however, is continuing to expand rapidly, and Queensland will soon have the highest imprisonment rate of any state in Australia. Despite the opening of the new Woodford Correctional Centre in March 1997, prison overcrowding remains a significant problem. Over the last several years, there has been a downward trend in escapes from prison custody and recorded assaults by prisoners, but deaths in prison custody are increasing. Major contributing factors to the increase in the prison population have been a large increase in the number of cases being processed through the higher courts and a marked rise in the number of appearances in magistrate courts. It has become more difficult for prisoners to obtain early release, especially since early release guidelines were issued in 1997 and the membership of the Queensland Community Corrections Board was replaced. Magistrate and district courts appear to be making more use of imprisonment as a sentencing option, although sentence lengths do not appear to have increased. Both magistrate and higher court systems seem to be coping adequately with their current criminal workloads. Although there has been an improvement in funding of the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, the legal aid system in Queensland is coming under greater funding pressure. Significant developments in Queensland's criminal justice system are reviewed with respect to police powers, the Queensland Crime Commission, new offenses, correctional services, indigenous justice issues, victims, and the use of video technology in courts. 20 references, 8 tables, and 21 figures