A recent research report has found that the amount of jail sentences has increased in Queensland over a 14 year period from 2005-2019. In some courts, an actual jail sentence has been the most common type of penalty with up to 36.2 % of cases resulting in the defendant going to jail.

The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council has published a Baseline report: The sentencing of people in Queensland (May 2021). The report provides a statistical overview of the people and offences sentenced, as well as the distribution of penalties imposed using data from the Queensland courts database.

An electronic copy of this report is available at: https://www.sentencingcouncil.qld.gov.au.

Some of the key conclusions the report has discovered:

Jail sentences have increased over time

Jail sentences have increased over the 14–year data period, from 6 per cent to 13 per cent in the Magistrates Courts and from 67 per cent to 77 per cent in the higher courts.

The length of imprisonment for adults increased over time

The average length of imprisonment increased over the data period in both the Magistrates Courts and the higher courts. In the Magistrates Courts, the average length of imprisonment was 5.8 months in 2006–07. This increased to an average of 8.2 months in 2018–19. In the higher courts, the average imprisonment sentence increased from 2.6 years in 2006–07 to 3 years in 2018–19.

In the higher courts jail is the most common penalty

In the higher courts, imprisonment was the most common penalty, with 36.2 per cent of cases resulting in a sentence of imprisonment requiring the person to serve time in custody after being sentenced.

Average length of jail sentence in Magistrates Court

The average term of imprisonment in the Magistrates Courts was 7.3 months (median=6.0 months). The longest imprisonment sentence was 4 years.

On average, men had longer imprisonment sentences (7.5 months) compared to women (5.9 months). Non-Indigenous offenders had slightly longer imprisonment sentences (7.2 months) on average, compared to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (7.0 months).

Adults sentenced in the higher courts

In the higher courts, the average term of imprisonment was 2.7 years (or 32.5 months). Men received longer imprisonment sentences on average (2.8 years) compared to women (2.3 years), while non-Indigenous offenders had slightly longer imprisonment sentences (2.8 years), compared to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (2.5 years).

The research report is nothing short of alarming particularly for those who have been charged with a criminal, traffic offence or domestic violence offence and have pending court matters. Jail sentences are certainly on the rise so you if you have been charged with an offence you should seek immediate legal advice.