More than 70,000 people have already been jailed for offences including drug possession, drink driving, shoplifting and child neglect.
But what about those who are locked up for serious offences?
This week, the Government unveiled a raft of reforms to the criminal justice system to ensure people are kept safe from the consequences of their crimes.
The reforms include an overhaul of the justice system, introducing a presumption of innocence for most crimes and making the maximum term of imprisonment for serious violent offences up to 20 years, with the possibility of a shorter sentence.
The changes, which include the introduction of a new offence of aggravated assault, will see offenders sentenced to jail for up to 12 years, while people who have been convicted of offences including aggravated burglary and manslaughter will be jailed for life.
The Government has also introduced new measures to make it easier for people with serious criminal convictions to appeal against sentences handed down to them, and introduce new sentencing guidelines for people who commit serious violent crimes.
Speaking to the ABC’s Today programme, Minister for Justice Simon Coveney said the reforms were a step in the right direction, but added that more needs to be done.
“There are so many people who are imprisoned who could be helped if they were able to get the right help.
I mean, it’s not only prison.
There’s other measures that we need to make available, and that’s why I’m announcing today the creation of a ‘guidance officer’ in every prison.”
Mr Covenyey said the Government had seen an increase in the number of people in prison who are on the streets.
“But what’s important to remember is that these are not people who were committing a crime.
They are people who can be helped by the community.”
Mr Coevey said there was a need for the Government to ensure that the most vulnerable in society were provided with the support they needed, especially when it came to mental health and drug use.
“If we’re not able to do that, we’re going to see the people who need the most help being locked up,” he said.
“The mental health system is broken.
We have a real shortage of mental health professionals in this country.”
Mr Colvin said the changes were needed to help people who had been in prison and that the Government was taking a bold approach.
“This is a new direction in the criminal law and the Government has got to get it right,” he told the ABC.
“And I think this Government is going to do everything they can to get to the bottom of it and make sure the best outcomes for these people are the best outcome for the country.”
Topics:justice,law-crime-and-justice,community-and%E2%80%99-crime,people,prison-and–punishment,mental-health,justice,coventry-2401,nsw,alphington-2450First posted November 05, 2019 12:39:00Contact Greg GannonMore stories from New South Wales