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About us

Our criminal justice system is not working. Past Governments of both political persuasions have been responsible for more than doubling the Australian jail population over recent decades. It is now time to critically examine and act on the evidence which shows that jails are failing us all.

The Justice Reform Initiative is an alliance of people from across the political spectrum who share long-standing professional experience or knowledge of the justice system and believe there is an urgent need to reduce the number of people in Australian jails. We have banded together to present the strong evidence-based case for reform to governments, recognising that this crucial reform has been far too slow in Australia – with a very real toll on people and communities.

We are joining the chorus of powerful voices already advocating for change and acknowledge the longstanding efforts of many other individuals and organisations seeking change.

In the US, which has even bigger problems with imprisonment, Democrats and Republicans have put aside their differences to find fairer and more productive alternatives to the default incarceration policies of many states. We must do the same. It’s high time our politicians accepted that our criminal justice system is in desperate need of reform.

Our approach

We seek to build collaborative working relationships with other advocates for change, while raising awareness about the evidence that shows unequivocally the system not working. We will build connections locally and internationally to show how a different approach can work, and how it is making a difference in other jurisdictions.

Our campaign will bring together organisations and people of goodwill from across the political spectrum and the broader public to build the conversation in Australia around how jailing is failing and in fact worsening our justice outcomes, drawing on the best evidence including overseas trends in sentencing and related criminal justice mechanisms, such as bail and parole.

Who we support

We respectfully acknowledge and support the current and longstanding efforts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to reduce the numbers of Indigenous people incarcerated in Australia and, importantly, the leadership role which Indigenous-led organisations such as Change the Record continue to play on this issue. We also acknowledge the work of many other individuals and organisations seeking change, such as those focused on the rate of imprisonment for women, people with mental health issues, people with disability and others.

Our supporters

The Justice Reform Initiative is supported by the Paul Ramsay Foundation who are committed to breaking cycles of disadvantage in the criminal justice system.

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