The rehabilitation of offenders: international perspectives applied to Australian correctional systems


In December 1998 there were 19,620 people in Australian prisons. Considerably more flowed through our prisons during the year, and some would argue that our responsibility extends beyond incarceration to rehabilitation.

The rehabilitation of offenders is once again being seen as an important topic by correctional departments in Australia, following a period in the 1970sand 1980s when there was widespread disillusionment with the notion. This paper examines the reasons for the resurgence of interest in the field of offender rehabilitation, and describes the conclusions from several recent international reviews that suggest that rehabilitation programs can be effective in reducing recidivism.

Available evidence from international experts now supports the use of a criminogenic needs approach to rehabilitation programs, and shows that some types of programs produce better outcomes than others. The implications of this approach are discussed in this paper in the context of Australian correctional systems.