Northern Territory Government Newsroom

Saving big dollars with less prisoners in our corrections system

The Country Liberals Government has saved the Territory tax payer $11 million over the past 12 months with significantly less prisoners in custody today than experts projected.

The Northern Territory is tracking well below prisoner projection rates with 14 per cent fewer inmates in our prison system than previously expected.

Prisoner number projection modelling since 2010 predicted the Northern Territory would have 1732 prisoners incarcerated at the end of May 2014.

Last week prisoner counts had dropped to 1495 in correctional centres across the Northern Territory.

From mid-June 2010 to early 2013 actual prisoner numbers in the Northern Territory were virtually unchanged from expert projections.

If the Country Liberals Government had maintained the upward trend experienced under the former Labor Government, there would be 237 additional prisoners incarcerated today, which would cost the Territory tax payer an additional $17.2 million over a 12 month period.

Minister for Correctional Services John Elferink said that with the average prisoner costing the Northern Territory Government $200 per day to incarcerate, the lower prisoner rate is creating sizeable savings of taxpayer dollars.

“The arrest of prisoner numbers in the Northern Territory is an encouraging sign that the Country Liberals Government’s tough law and order policies are biting,” Mr Elferink said.

“It is no coincidence that incarceration rates have been arrested as new policies begin to bite.

“The Northern Territory Government’s paid employment program, Sentenced to a Job, is providing low-security prisoners with an opportunity to work in real jobs in the community.

“Our Working Prisons policy is providing inmates with the skills and training that they need to gain and retain a job once they are released from prison.

“Prisoners who participate in the program are expected to take on increased responsibilities to assist with their return to society which includes building a work ethic and developing relationships with hard working positive role models.

“These same prisoners are also contributing to a victims’ assistance levy and paying rent for their jail cell.

“Sentenced to a Job has seen prisoners completing jobs, including being a cashier, painter, baker and metalworker, in various communities and major towns across the Territory.

“The opening of the Darwin Correctional Precinct will also signal a new chapter in correctional services in the Northern Territory, with nearly all prisoners expected to work while serving out their sentence.”

Mr Elferink said the Country Liberals Government’s demanding approach to incarceration coupled with tough law and order policies is preventing offenders from entering or re-entering the corrections system. 

“While it is still early days, the lower than a predicted prisoner rate is an encouraging sign of our justice policies beginning to gain traction,” he said.

“Since forming Government, the Country Liberals have been unafraid to implement tough legislation for violent offences, including tougher penalties for an assault on a worker and mandatory sentencing for violent assaults.

“To further protect victims and drive down crime, mandatory sentencing legislation was introduced in May last year, where anyone who commits a violent assault will face a minimum three month jail term.

“Additionally, policies designed to curb alcohol fuelled violence including intensive Temporary Beat Locations, Alcohol Protection Orders and Alcohol Mandatory Treatment, has resulted in 19 per cent fewer assaults on our streets and led to fewer people facing the prospect of a prison sentence.

“I am hopeful that proactive policing, innovative prison policies and a fair and balanced justice system will continue to reduce below predicted prisoner numbers in the Northern Territory.

“These numbers are cause for optimism.”

Media Contact: Danielle Lede 0404 515 414