In Australia, young people who have been proven guilty of an offence may be given an unsupervised community-based sentence, a supervised community-based sentence or a sentence of detention. The latter two types of sentences are known as 'supervised sentences'.
Youth justice departments are responsible for providing young people serving supervised sentences with services designed to reduce the frequency and seriousness of any future offending. The rate of return to sentenced supervision is an indicator of the effectiveness of these services, although factors beyond the control of these departments will also have an impact on levels of re-offending and return to sentenced supervision.
Most young people do not return to sentenced supervision
Most young people who have a supervised youth justice sentence serve only 1 sentence, and never return to sentenced youth justice supervision. Overall, 62% had only 1 supervised sentence before the age of 18. The rate was lower for those whose first sentence was detention (47%) compared with those whose first supervised sentence was community-based (63%). (Most young people's first supervised sentence was community-based.)
However, a sizeable minority go on to have a large number of sentences before they turn 18. Almost 1 in 6 young people (15%) whose first supervised sentence was community-based had a total of 5 or more supervised sentences from the ages of 10 to 18. For those whose first supervised sentence was detention, more than 1 in 4 (29%) had 5 or more sentences.
Young people released from sentenced detention are more likely to return to sentenced supervision
For people aged 10-16 upon release from sentenced supervision in 2012-13:
• 20% of those released from sentenced community-based supervision returned to sentenced supervision within 6 months and 44% returned within 12 months
• 50% of those released from sentenced detention returned to sentenced supervision within 6 months and 76% returned within 12 months.
Young people released from sentenced detention are also more likely to return with a sentence of detention than those released from sentenced community-based supervision. Within 12 months of release, those released from sentenced detention were 3 times as likely to have a sentence of detention as those released from sentenced community-based supervision.
The younger a person is when they are released from sentenced community- based supervision, the more likely they are to return
Young people aged 10-12 when they were released from sentenced community-based supervision were 1.8 times as likely to return to some form of sentenced supervision within 12 months as those who were aged 16 when they were released.
However, there was no clear relationship between the age at release and the rate of return within 12 months for those released from sentenced detention.