NSW prison population approaches all time high

Statement from Richard Harvey, President of the Law Society of NSW

“The Law Society of NSW has repeatedly raised concerns on behalf of the state’s solicitors in relation to the swelling numbers in the state’s prisons, and the justice system as a whole.

“Figures released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) show the NSW prison population rose by 3.6% or 470 people in 2019 to 13,635 and is approaching an all-time high.

“The high prison population is putting significant pressure upon an already struggling system resulting in a substantial and continually increasing backlog in our courts and delays in justice – all at a time when our legal aid system is under increasing pressure.

“The ongoing increases in the NSW prison population, as confirmed in these latest figures, coincide with a record investment in our state’s prisons.

“Incarceration is also expensive with figures suggesting that the daily cost of keeping a person in custody is more than $180 per day.

“It’s clear that instead of pouring money into the prisons, the NSW Government needs to invest in early intervention strategies, expand the NSW Drug Court to Dubbo, better resource community-based health treatment such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres and introduce further reforms to better enable courts to impose alternatives to full time imprisonment.

“We also need a coordinated national response from Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to address the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.”

Sue Finn | Public Relations Manager
Law Society of New South Wales
T: +61 2 9926 0288 | M: +61 413 440 699 | E: media@lawsociety.com.au