Jesuit Social Services was pleased to contribute a response to the Cultural Review of the Adult Custodial Corrections System.

The Victorian Government commissioned this independent review to ensure that Victoria’s adult custodial facilities promote rehabilitation and are safe environments for both people in prison and staff.

The primary goal of any effective and humane criminal justice system is to use prison as a last resort by ensuring policy, legislative and budgetary levers are all set to prevention and diversion. However, increasing prison populations and high recidivism rates point to a systemic failing of Victoria’s criminal justice system and a significant disconnect between what works to support rehabilitation and what the government is implementing.

Jesuit Social Services’ submission advocates for the government to stop building new prisons, reduce the number of people who are incarcerated, invest in keeping people out of custody, and embed a restorative approach where imprisonment is necessary.

Summary of our recommendations

  • Implement place-based approaches that address the complex and interconnected social determinants of crime to prevent contact with the justice system.
  • Ensure incarceration is only used as a last resort by strengthening the use of diversion, reinstating alternatives to imprisonment, and repealing regressive legislation.
  • Embed a restorative way of working, supported by qualified staff, well-designed facilities, high quality pre- and post-release programs and strong oversight mechanisms, to help people turn their lives around when they return to the community.