MELBOURNE, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Victoria's prison population has grown 70 percent in the last decade even though the crime rate has barely risen in that time, largely due to more courts denying bail to violent criminals.
The state's prison population has grown from 3908 prisoners in 2006 to 6520 in 2015 despite a mere four percent rise in crime rate, while the population of prisoners being held in remand grew 154 percent, according to a new research released by the Sentencing Advisory Council.
The Victorian government introduced laws in 2013 that made it harder for those accused of violent crimes to be let out on bail after the rape and murder of Jill Meagher, 29, by Adrian Bayley who was out on parole at the time.
Arie Freiberg, chairman of the Sentencing Advisory Council, said courts were taking the safe option of denying bail more often in the wake of Meagher's murder, which was driving up the number of prisoners being held in remand.
"There is a kneejerk reaction, sometimes, that we can imprison our way out of crime," Freiberg told Fairfax Media in comments published on Thursday.
"I think the courts and police are responding to the clamour in the community for tougher sentences. I think the courts are responding."
The population has proved costly for the state with upkeep for every prisoner in Victoria costing 227 US dollars per day compared to the national average of 171 US dollars per day.
The Sentencing Advisory Council said that due to the increase in prisoners more prisoners were leaving jail without having completed mandatory behavioral change programs, putting them at a greater risk of reoffending.
Prisoners being held in remand were spending an average of seven months behind bars before being sentenced, the report said.
The council said many of those people were held in jail because of shifts in community attitudes to the "risk perception" of releasing prisoners which are being adopted by magistrates and judges in making their decisions.