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Sentencing reform

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    Summary of reform

    Stronger sentencing will make the community safer by holding offenders to account and reducing reoffending.

    Key changes

    • The Intensive Correction Order (ICO) will be strengthened with offenders subject to supervision by Community Corrections Officers and conditions such as home detention, electronic monitoring, curfews and community service work.
    • Suspended sentences will be abolished.
    • Courts will have better information about offenders at the time of sentencing to help them tailor sentences and impose supervision and conditions that hold them to account and address their risk of reoffending.
    • There will be a presumption that domestic violence offenders will either receive a supervised community-based sentence or be imprisoned. 
    • More offenders will be subject to supervision and programs to address their offending behaviour. 

    Related information


    Many offenders currently on suspended sentences are unsupervised. Supervision by Community Corrections Officers and high quality interventions has been found to reduce reoffending by addressing the cause of an offender's behaviour.

    Reducing reoffending means less crime and fewer victims in our communities. 

    This reform builds on recommendations of the NSW Law Reform Commission Sentencing Report and will help deliver tough and smart justice for safer communities.

    Expected benefits

    The sentencing reform is expected to:

    • hold offenders more accountable
    • see more offenders under close supervision and participating in community rehabilitation programs (proven to reduce reoffending)
    • improve community safety by reducing reoffending (less crime means fewer victims). 

    How the scheme works in practice

    Our current community-based sentences will be strengthened. 

    ​Strengthened orders
    ​Intensive Correction Order (ICO)

    ​Home detention orders

    Suspended sentences

    Existing Intensive Correction Orders 

    ​Community Correction Order (CCO)

    ​Community service orders

    Good behaviour bonds

    ​Conditional Release Order (CRO)

    ​Non-conviction bonds

    Intensive Correction Order (ICO)

    Intensive Correction Orders will be strengthened. Unlike suspended sentences, supervision will be mandatory and all offenders serving ICOs will be subject to conditions such as home detention, electronic monitoring, curfews, community service work, alcohol/drug bans, place restrictions, or non-association requirements.

    Offenders will be required to participate in programs that target the causes of their behaviour, such as alcohol or drug misuse. The ICO will be the most serious sentence that an offender can serve in the community. All offenders on ICOs will be subject to supervision by Community Corrections Officers.

    Community Corrections Officers will have clearer authority to deal with breaches of conditions in real time. For more serious breaches, offenders will continue to be referred to the State Parole Authority (SPA). The SPA will be able to send the offenders to prison to serve the remainder of their sentence in custody.

    Community safety will be the court's paramount consideration when deciding whether an offender should serve up to two years under an ICO or in prison.

    ICOs will not be available for offenders who have been convicted of murder, manslaughter, sexual assault, any sexual offence against a child, discharge of a firearm, terrorism offences, organised crime, breaches of serious crime prevention orders, or breaches of public safety orders. A domestic violence offender will only be able to be sentenced to an ICO if the court is satisfied that the victim or likely co-residents can be adequately protected. For example, a domestic violence offender will not be eligible for an ICO with a home detention condition if they will be residing with the victim.

    Community Correction Order (CCO)

    Courts will be able to use the Community Correction Order to punish offenders for crimes that do not warrant imprisonment or an ICO, but are too serious to be dealt with by a fine or lower level penalty.

    Offenders who are sentenced for offences such as property damage, drug possession, theft or common assault, may receive a CCO if the court decides it is appropriate.

    CCOs replace community service orders and good behaviour bonds. The benefit of CCOs is that they will be a flexible sentence that the court can tailor to reflect the nature of the offender and the offence. The court will be able to select from the range of conditions, such as supervision by Community Corrections Officers, community service work and curfews, to ensure offenders are held accountable. CCOs will be able to be imposed for a period of up to three years.

    Conditional Release Order (CRO)

    Courts will be able to use the Conditional Release Order to deal with first time and less serious offences where the offender is unlikely to present a risk to the community.

    Offenders who are sentenced for offences such as driving while disqualified, first time drink driving or low level drug possession, may receive a CRO.

    CROs will replace non-conviction bonds. The benefit of CROs is that the court will be able to impose conditions such as supervision, non-association requirements and place restrictions where appropriate. Courts will have discretion to impose a conviction on a CRO, if they consider it appropriate. CROs will be able to be imposed for a period of up to two years.

    The CRO acts as a warning and diverts these less serious offenders out of the criminal justice system, freeing up resources to deal with the offenders who cause the greatest concern to the community. If an offender commits any further offences while on a CRO, subsequent penalties may be more severe.

    More offenders on supervision 

    Supervision requires an offender to regularly report to and obey directions from their Community Corrections Officer. 

    Evidence shows supervision combined with rehabilitation is the best way to reduce reoffending. New guidelines, based on international best practice, have been implemented to improve supervision. 

    During supervision, officers will use cognitive and behavioural interventions to reduce the risk that the offender will return to crime. 

    Community Correction Officers are fully trained and well equipped to manage offenders. They also monitor an offender’s compliance with any conditions of their sentence, such as curfews, ongoing participation in rehabilitation programs or restrictions on where an offender can go.

    More than 200 new Community Corrections Officers are being recruited to boost capacity to reduce reoffending. This will provide extra supervision to thousands of offenders, who were previously unsupervised in the community.

    Contact us

    For general enquiries please contact policy@justice.nsw.gov.au

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