Most people found guilty of a crime are given a community-based sentence or put on probation, rather than being sent to prison.
Probation gives offenders the chance to stop their criminal behaviour and get access to programs which will help with their education, employment and personal development.
The benefits of people serving their sentences in the community include:
- staying in the same job, which decreases the chance of re-offending
- staying in the same house
- reducing disruption to family life, including the lives of children
- reducing the negative influence of other offenders, which can happen in prison
- decreasing the cost to taxpayers - it currently costs around $24 per day to manage someone in the community, compared to $272 per day if they are in prison.
Types of probation
If a person is found guilty of a crime, there are a range of non-custodial options available.
- Community-based Orders
- Intensive Supervision Orders
- Conditional Suspended Imprisonment Order
- Pre-sentence Order
- Conditional Monitored Bail.
Requirements of probation
Probation orders are typically made up of three parts.
- Supervision - the offender must meet regularly with their community corrections officer. This makes sure the person is staying away from criminal behaviour and is completing other parts of their sentence.
- Program - the offender may complete a program or programs to deal with their criminal behaviour. Programs can include treatment for substance abuse, behavioural issues such as anger and violence, or provide education and training opportunities to increase an offender's chance of getting a job.
- Community work - the offender may be required to do volunteer work for a set number of hours. This gives the offender a chance to repay the community for their crimes and may also increase their chances of getting a job. Community work in Western Australia is managed by Repay WA.