This study explored a range of factors that could account for the 50 per cent increase in the adult female custody population in NSW between 2011 and 2017. Of these, the most striking finding is the dramatic increase in repeat female offenders. A large and statistically significant increase in female offenders who have multiple prior court appearances was discovered. Indeed, there is evidence that prior offending history is a key determinant when accounting for the rise in the female prison population in recent years. An increase in females being proceeded against to court by the NSW Police and females received into remand was also found. In every cohort (remand, remanded and sentenced, and sentenced) increases in proportions, numbers and length of stay indicators for Indigenous females are statistically significant.
It is possible that the dramatic increase in repeat female offending in recent years is the result of changes in the criminal behaviour or motivation of female offenders, but also proactive law enforcement and policing targeting repeat offenders. Another consideration is that females with a prior criminal history generally do not have access to labour market opportunities once released from custody, and subsequently, return to criminal activity
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