Community Corrections

Contributed by Lorana Bartels and Caroline Doyle. Current to February 2022.

As discussed in the Sentencing section, courts can impose a prison sentence or a range of non-custodial penalties (that is, they do not involve custody, or prison). Some of these involve supervision by Community Corrections (which is a part of ACTCS). Community Corrections supervises community-based orders, including supervised bail (Bail Act 1992 (ACT) s 25(4)(e)), a Good Behaviour Order with a supervision condition (Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005 (ACT) s 13(4)(d)), Intensive Correction Order (ICO) (Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act 2005 (ACT) s 42(1)(e)), Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order (DATO) (Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005 (ACT) s 80V(d)) and Parole (Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act 2005 (ACT) Part 7.4)). ICOs DATOs and Parole are all alternatives to full-time imprisonment.

If a person is required by the court to be subject to the supervision of ACTCS, they are allocated a Community Corrections Officer and required to report at specific times for the length of the order (for example, they might need to report once a week for 6 months). The conditions of the supervision are outlined in the court order, and these, along with any other risk factors identified in the risk assessment process, form the basis of a case management plan. The offender is required to obey all reasonable directions of their Community Corrections Officer to address their offending behaviours. Some requirements of supervision can include providing sample of their breath, oral fluid or urine for drug testing, undertaking a therapeutic or educational program or referral to external treatment providers to address issues such as violence, anger, alcohol and other drug abuse, or mental health treatment (for the core conditions, see Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act s 42 for ICOs, s 86 for Good Behaviour Orders and s 137 for parole orders).

Another sentencing option available in the ACT is a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order (DATO). These types of orders can only be made in the Supreme Court, and their intent is to assist an offender to address their serious issues with alcohol and other drugs which have impacted on their offending behaviour. People sentenced to a DATO will need to attend the Drug and Alcohol Sentencing List in the Supreme Court on a regular basis, where they are managed by a multi-disciplinary team, to assist them to address their substance misuse. DATOs are similar to ICOs, in that they are an alternative to full-time imprisonment, and demonstrations of non-compliance may result in the impositions of sanctions, such as short-term suspensions and return to custody, or cancellation of the order.

If an offender fails to comply with the conditions of the order and the directions of their Community Corrections Officer, the court or the Sentence Administration Board will be notified. This authority will then decide the outcome of such breaches. The Sentence Administration Board deals with all (alleged) breaches of parole and release on licence (for offenders who have served at least 10 years of a life sentence). Other breaches (eg supervised bail and Good Behaviour Orders) are dealt with by the courts. Breaches of ICOs generally go before the Sentence Administration Board; however, in some certain circumstances, they may be referred back to the sentencing court. Alleged breaches of DATOs are dealt with during the regular sittings of the Drug and Alcohol Sentencing List.

Under s 65 of the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act, if an offender is found to have committed a further imprisonable offence while on an ICO, the sentencing court must, as soon as practicable cancel the offender’s ICO and order them to serve all or some of the rest of their sentence in prison, unless it is not in the interests of justice to do so (for example, a minor offence near the end of their sentence). An ICO will also be cancelled if the offender withdraws their consent (s 66).

In June 2021, the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety announced an inquiry into the operation of community corrections. The Committee conducted hearings in 2022, with submissions received from government and non-government organisations and current detainees in the AMC. These detainees spoke of issues in the AMC, such as how it is nearly impossible to gain approval to the TRC.

Community Service

A Community Service Order can be set as a condition of a good behaviour order (see Part 6.2 of the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act) or ICO (see Part 5.3 of the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act). Community service is managed by ACTCS’ Community Service Work Unit.

The Community Service Work Unit organises placements for offenders, completes inductions with offenders including work health and safety and tool use training, liaises with community and work agencies, and monitors the completion of hours. If completion does not occur, the unit breaches offenders.

Types of work may include landscaping, general grounds maintenance, or retail work with charity organisations.

For more information, see Sentencing.

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