Skip navigation

Media Release: Budget blowout on more prison beds is a bad investment

Justice Reform Initiative Media Release, 3 June 2024

A $227 million expansion of South Australia’s prison capacity is a poor investment in reducing reoffending and improving community safety.

The Justice Reform Initiative today urged the Malinauskas government to rethink its Budget commitment, reportedly the largest investment in the history of the state’s prison system, warning that adding new prison beds ran contrary to the government’s commitment to reduce reoffending by 20 per cent by 2026.

Executive Director Dr Mindy Sotiri said the evidence overwhelmingly showed adding new prison beds was a costly and ineffective response to both crime and rising prison numbers.  

“We know that prisons of any kind are harmful – they fail to reduce crime or address the drivers behind it, and actually increase the likelihood of  future justice system involvement,” Dr Sotiri said.

“Crime prevention and support of people at risk of imprisonment, is best carried out in the community where the drivers of crime can be addressed. Pushing more people into prison beds further entrenches cycles of reincarceration, ultimately failing to make the community safer.

“More prison beds, and more people in prison, will not reduce reoffending – it does the opposite. This funding would be far better spent resourcing and expanding proven support services in the community, and across all points of the justice system, to reduce contact with the criminal justice system and break the cycle.

“We urge the South Australian Government to rethink its approach and redirect this funding towards evidence-based solutions that actually work to reduce crime.”

The Justice Reform Initiative is a multi-partisan alliance supported by more than 120 of our most eminent Australians, including two former Governors-General, former Members of Parliament from all sides of politics, academics, respected Aboriginal leaders, senior former judges, including High Court judges, and others who have added their voices to end Australia’s dangerously high reliance on jails. 

The Initiative is calling for governments around Australia to move away from an entrenched reliance on incarceration as the mainstay of the criminal justice system and adopt an evidence-based approach to deliver better results for taxpayers, communities and people in the criminal justice system.

Media contact:  Pia Akerman 0412 346 746


The Initiative respectfully acknowledges and supports 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 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.

Continue Reading

Read More