THE NUMBER of serious offenders in NSW prisons grew to the highest level in the state’s history last year.
According to the 2007 Serious Offenders Review Council (SORC) annual report for 2007, NSW was host to 671 serious offenders in 2007 compared with 662 in 2006 — serious offenders being those serving a sentence of 12 years or more.
According to NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos, this has been a positive outcome in terms of the state’s crime levels.
“The rise of the overall prison population, and, in particular, serious offenders, has had a direct impact on levels of crime, which are falling or stable in almost every category,” he said.
The report also showed that a smaller proportion of serious offenders who were eligible for parole were released in 2007 than in 2006 — 26 per cent released in 2007 compared with 32 per cent in 2006.
Hatzistergos said that as a result of reforms to the parole laws in 2005, offenders who are denied parole now have to wait at least a year before reapplying. In addition, offenders now require the approval of both the Parole Authority and the SORC to be granted parole, except under exceptional circumstances.