Evaluation of the Tasmanian work order scheme

Criminology Research Council grant ; (14/74)

With the assistance of Mr. M. K. Rook, Mr. Mackay conducted a detailed evaluation of this sentencing technique. The summary of their detailed report is as follows:

The Work Order Scheme was developed and introduced into the Tasmanian criminal justice system in 1972 as an optional alternative to short terms of imprisonment. It allows an offender to be sentenced to a maximum of 25 Work Order days which he must work one day per week on community projects An operational analysis over 26 weeks showed a 63% attendance, 25% absence with permission, and 12% absence without leave. Poor conduct reports averaged 3%, highly commended reports 6%. A comparison of recidivism rates between the 1974 Work Order and short-term imprisonment groups showed that 47% of the Work Order group committed further offences and 19% subsequently went to prison, compared to 62% and 40% respectively for the short-term imprisonment group However, as the prison group had a more extensive criminal record, it could not properly be compared with the Work Order group The cost of operating the Work Order Scheme, $450 per man per week, is considerably less than the cost of imprisonment, $117.11 per man per week, an estimated saving to the state of $1,175,000 for 1975. Currently, 25 man years of work is provided annually for charitable institutions and needy individuals The Scheme is considered a successful, unique and viable alternative to imprisonment, with numerous benefits to both the offender and the community.