Wednesday, 3 September 2008

NSW conviction and jail rates still on rise

THE number of people sentenced to jail in NSW continues to rise, as does the conviction rate.

The latest figures show that 87 per cent of people who appear before the local courts plead guilty or are found guilty.

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research's criminal court statistics, which were released yesterday, show that the proportion of people found guilty in the District and Supreme courts and sentenced to jail rose from 66.7 per cent to 69.9 per cent last year.

There was also a small rise in the number of people jailed after being sentenced in the local court system, but the bureau's director, Don Weatherburn, said there was a slight decrease in the number of Aborignal people given a jail sentence.

The figures also show there was a significant rise in the number of committals to the Supreme Court that ended with a guilty plea rather than going to trial - 46 per cent in 2007 compared to 31 per cent the previous year.

In the Children's Court, the proportion of young offenders sentenced to juvenile detention rose to more than 10 per cent.

Dr Weatherburn said 83 per cent of people appearing before District or Supreme courts pleaded guilty or were found guilty.

"As in past years, the conviction rate remains high," he said.

Dr Weatherburn said the statistics also revealed that people were spending less time in custody from the time they were committed to stand trial in the District Court until their case was finished. He said the median time spent in custody was 188 days, down from 207 days the previous year.

The most common offence before local courts was non-aggravated assault, followed by traffic offences, including drink- driving and driving with a cancelled or suspended licence.

In the higher courts, the most common offences were sexual assault, break and enter, robbery and extortion. The average age of men found guilty in those courts was 32; for women it was 33.5.

No comments: