The recently released report of the Victorian Ombudsman (Victoria, Australia) “Investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria“ provides an excellent overview of the rehabilitation programs currently on offer in Victoria Australia and elsewhere around the world. It recommends expansion of therapeutic alternatives to imprisonment and improvement of prison and post release rehabilitation programs.
The report recommends a “whole of government” approach to reducing offending and recidivism and to promote rehabilitation of offenders, to include:
- a common intent and set of shared objectives to reduce offending and recidivism
- appropriate governance arrangements, both at ministerial and departmental levels
- creation and publication of targets and performance measures common across justice, education, health and human service system agencies
- improved collection, sharing and use of data across agencies to drive evidence based reforms and improved service delivery.
The second recommendation recommends that a justice reinvestment methodology be used to pilot and evaluate local approaches to crime prevention and community safety in disadvantaged Victorian communities (either geographic or communities based on other attributes) with the aim of reducing reoffending and increasing community safety.
The report provides an excellent overview of the existing specialist and mainstream therapeutic court programs and recommends the expand the current court-based therapeutic interventions to operate as required for offenders, regardless of their location. Such expansion should build on the successful models of specialist courts – such as Drug Court of Victoria, the Neighbourhood Justice Centre, the Assessment and Referral Court List (mental health list) and Koori Courts (Indigenous courts) and also successful mainstream programs such as the Court Integrated Support Program (CISP) and the Criminal Justice Diversion Program.