How NSW plans to reduce the number of people in jail

A PLAN to use investment from public companies to get prisoners ready for life outside jail has earned support from free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

The New South Wales Government has committed to cutting re-jailing levels by 5% by 2019.

It announced plans to create a "social impact investment scheme" drawing on businesses and not-for-profits to invest in programs to decrease recidivism - repeated criminal behaviour.

The amount of money paid back will depend on how well the partners manage to cut down the number of parolees ending up back behind bars.

The National Australia Bank has already signed up with the not-for-profit Australian Community Support Organisation to jointly deliver the Transition Reintegration and Community Connection program, or On TRACC.

The service is designed to provide intensive, individual support to parolees, particularly in their first 16 weeks of parole.

"The intended outcome is to reduce the cost to society and government by reducing the number of inmates in the prison system and ensure that parolees are given the best chance of being reintegrated into society," NAB director of capital financing solutions James Waddell said.

Institute of Public Affairs research fellow Daniel Wild said the program showed promise.

"The NSW Government's proposed social impact investment scheme could reduce re-incarceration numbers, crime and the financial costs associated with jail," he said.

"The scheme could also improve the chances of prisoners finding work and becoming self-sufficient upon re-entry.

More than half of prisoners currently in the NSW justice system have been jailed before.

"It is important to remember that criminals aren't victims of crime - victims are victims," Mr Wild said.

"But it's in everyone's interest for someone who has served their sentence to avoid further crime and incarceration.

"The key to this is work, self-sufficiency and a decent life upon re-entry.

"However, it is important the reduction in re-incarceration is achieved through actual improvements in prisoner outcomes, not just through leniency in arrests or sentencing.

"Prisoners must still be held to account for their behaviour when they are released."

Mr Wild said keeping one person in a NSW prison cost taxpayers about $90,000 a year.

"This is in addition to court and police costs," he said.

"Money saved from incarcerating fewer people could be invested in a greater police presence to deter crime." -ARM NEWSDESK

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