VICTORIA’S prison population has increased more than a third in the past 10 years.
A report from Victoria’s Sentencing Advisory Council shows the increase from 2002 to last year is nearly 40 per cent, higher than the general population growth.
Statistics show the prison population in 2002 was 3540 and rose to 4884 last year.
It led to the imprisonment rate increasing by 18.6 per cent from 94.2 to 111.7 people in prison per 100,000 head of population.
The crime rate in Victoria has decreased, but the rates for offences against the person, offences against good order and drug offences have all increased.
There has been a significant increase in the number of prisoners held on remand while awaiting trial or sentencing along with the growth in the imprisonment rate.
More than 20 per cent of the prison population last year were prisoners on remand.
The average length of prison sentences has increased.
The average expected time to serve for prisoners rose 22.2 per cent over the survey period from 40.1 to 49 months.
Analysis shows sentences have increased for those offenders sentenced in the higher courts.
The report finds changes to the law on the imposition of suspended sentences for serious offences committed after November 2006 were unlikely to be responsible for the observed increase in the imprisonment rate.
It is also too early to observe any effects of the abolition in May 2011 of suspended sentenced for serious and significant offences.
Another factor in the increased prison population is a reduction in the percentage of defendants being granted bail.