When an offender is found guilty, the magistrate or judge will decide what their penalty should be. This is called the sentence.
Some offenders will serve some or all of their sentence in custody. This means they will detained in:
- a prison
- a youth justice centre (if the offender is a young person).
Not all offenders go to prison. The may receive an alternative sentence.
Victims of violent crime can apply to go on to the Victims Register if the offender is sent to prison.
Eligible victims can receive information about the offender’s sentence – such as when they are going to be released from prison.
Prisons in Victoria
Prisons in Victoria are overseen by Corrections Victoria (External link)
As well as punishment, the purposes of a custodial sentence include to:
- help deter the offender and other people from committing similar crimes
- protect the community
- improve the chances of rehabilitation, so that when an offender leaves prison, they are less likely to reoffend.
While in prison, offenders who are able to do so are generally required to work. This gives them a chance to make a contribution to the community. They may also take part in programs or treatments that may assist in their rehabilitation. Towards the end of their sentence, they will generally take part in activities that help them prepare to leave prison and transition back into the community.
It is important to understand that there are strict rules regarding the sharing of information such as where the offender is serving their sentence and what programs they participate in. Victims cannot be given this information.
An offender may leave the prison for a variety of reasons for short periods of time during their sentence as part of the permit program. Not all offenders are eligible to apply for this program, or are granted if they do apply, and leave is granted only under strict criteria by Corrections Victoria.
Offenders may be under supervision and must generally follow strict conditions or rules while they are in the community.
Victims of violent crime are eligible to go on the Victims Register. The service may contact registered victims about an offender’s absence from prison.
Youth Justice Centres
Young offenders usually serve their custodial sentence in a Youth Justice Centre. This is a secure environment with programs and facilities to assist with rehabilitation and reduce the young person’s risk of offending.
You can learn more about Victoria’s youth justice system on the Department of Justice and Community Safety’s website (External link).
Unwanted contact from a prisoner
If you receive telephone calls or letters from an offender in prison and you do not want to be contacted by them, you can contact Corrections Victoria and let them know that you want it to stop. If someone tries to contact you for the prisoner to pass on messages and you do not want them to, you can also report that.
This means that prison staff will be aware that the offender is not to contact you and they will take action if any further attempts are made. They can also report it to the police.
Intervention orders and offenders in prison
Just as when they are in the community, an intervention order against an offender still applies when they are in prison. This means that if the offender breaches the conditions in the order, you can report it to the police and they can take action.
You can learn more about intervention orders and how they can help you protect your safety. You can talk to the Victims of Crime Helpline on 1800 819 817 for advice and support about these issues at any time during the offender’s sentence.
The Prisoner Compensation Quarantine Fund
If an offender is injured while they are in prison, they can sue the prison. If they are successful, they may be paid compensation for their injury.
Payouts of more than $10,000 are held in the Prisoner Compensation Quarantine Fund for 12 months or more to allow eligible victims of the offender to make a legal claim.
- learn more about the Prisoner Compensation Quarantine Fund
- apply to go on the Victims Register who can let you know if a payment against your offender is made.