Disability support and reincarceration after a first adult prison custody episode for people with intellectual disability in New South Wales, Australia

Published date01 June 2022
DOI10.1177/26338076221087461
Date01 June 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Disability support and
reincarceration after a f‌irst
adult prison custody episode
for people with intellectual
disability in New South Wales,
Australia
Julian Trof‌imovs
Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry (3DN),
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Preeyaporn Srasuebkul
Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry (3DN),
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Julian N Trollor
Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry (3DN),
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia;
Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, School of Psychiatry, University of New
South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Leanne Dowse
University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Abstract
Prisoners with an intellectual disability (ID) are an over-represented group in custody, with
studies indicating this group is more likely to reoffend and be reincarcerated than the general
prison population. While prisoners with ID share many of the same risk factors for recidivism
as the general prison population, the lack of adequate disability support has been argued to be
an additional key driver of recidivism for this group. This study aims to investigate reincarcera-
tion and factors associated with reincarceration after a f‌irst adult custody episode, including
Corresponding author:
Julian Trof‌imovs, Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry (3DN), School of Psychiatry, University of
New South Wales, 34 Botany St, Randwick NSW 2031, Sydney, Australia.
Email: julian.trof‌imovs@unsw.edu.au
Article
Journal of Criminology
2022, Vol. 55(2) 239259
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/26338076221087461
journals.sagepub.com/home/anj
the impact of provision of general and specialist disability supports. The study used linked dis-
ability support services and custody data to identify a cohort of 1,129 prisoners with ID who
were released from a f‌irst adult custodial episode in New South Wales (NSW) between 2005
and 2015. Over the follow-up period, the linked custody data showed that 72% (813) of those
identif‌ied with an ID and released from a f‌irst adult custodial episode returned to prison, of
which 76% (617) received no post-release disability support. This study found that 27% (308)
of the study cohort had received a disability support service post-release from adult custody.
Receipt of disability support was associated with a lower risk of reincarceration, while
younger age and shorter duration of the custodial episode were associated with higher risk
of reincarceration. The potential for disability support to lower risk of reincarceration high-
lights the importance of funding programmes that connect prisoners with ID to appropriate
post-release disability supports.
Keywords
Intellectual disability, data linkage, custody, recidivism, support
Date received: 20 October 2021; accepted: 21 February 2022
Introduction
Despite falling crime rates in Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021; Weatherburn
et al., 2016), recent f‌igures show that there has been a 49% increase in the number of prisoners
in Australia over the last 10 years, from 28,956 in 20092010 to 43,115 in 20182019
(Australian Government Productivity Commission, 2020a). A range of explanations has
been posited for this increase (Queensland Productivity Commission, 2020; Weatherburn
et al., 2016) with a contributing factor being higher rates of return to prison. In 20182019,
46.4% of released prisoners returned to prison within 2 years, an increase from 44.5% in
20142015 (Australian Government Productivity Commission, 2020b). In direct f‌inancial
terms, imprisonment in Australia for 20182019 costs close to 5 billion dollars (Australian
Government Productivity Commission, 2020b). The social costs of incarceration are profound
on prisoners, their families, and the community. While diff‌icult to def‌initively quantify, social
costs include loss of employment, housing, relationships, mental health problems, and the pos-
sible exposure to the criminogenic effects of prison all of which increase the risk of reoffend-
ing (Queensland Productivity Commission, 2020).
Estimates of the prevalence of intellectual disability (ID) in the general prison population
vary widely with studies reporting the prevalence of ID in prison to be similar to the prevalence
of ID in the community (Fazel et al., 2008; Holland & Persson, 2011). Other studies suggest
people with ID may be over-represented in the prison population with estimates in the range
of 7%10% (Hayes et al., 2007; Hellenbach et al., 2017; Søndenaa et al., 2008). Sources of
this variation relate to differences in methodologies used to identify ID. Prevalence is lower
where a subsample is tested, and higher where all prisoners are tested (NSW Law Reform
Commission, 1996). Differences in assessment techniques, the skill of the person conducting
an assessment, the use of brief screening instruments compared with full diagnostic assess-
ments, differences in cut-offs for IQ taken as indicating the presence of an ID (NSW Law
Reform Commission, 2012), the language and/or culture of test participants
240 Journal of Criminology 55(2)

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT