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Demand considerations

During Stage B of the Prisons Infrastructure Redevelopment Project (PIRP), consultant John Walker, a respected criminologist, prepared forecasts for the prison population of Tasmania and predicted 1381 receptions to Tasmanian prisons in 2001-02 and 1378 in 2002-03.

Walker also predicted a maximum of 478 prisoners in 2002-03, and a peak of 508 in 2005 (from a total forecast period of 20 years to 2019).

A high population scenario (base +20%) put this figure at over 600 in early 2003, and as high as 625 over the period to 2007 as a result of seasonal fluctuations.

Stage C analysis

During the early planning phase of PIRP Stage C a social and demand analysis was undertaken by consultants Drs Elaine Stratford, Julie Davidson, Matt Bradshaw and Rob White from the University of Tasmania, acting as private consultants to the Program. 

In the analysis emphasis was placed on developing scenarios for prisoner numbers and population characteristics and the related infrastructure implications of the same.

The scenarios suggested that the annual prison population for Tasmania might have been be as little as 340 or as high as 480 by 2015, with a remand population as high as 81.

Volatile projections

However it was emphasised that projections were highly sensitive to changes in political, policy and operational contexts, and that they could also be affected by a range of socio-demographic trends and criminogenic behaviours that differentially affect men and women, youths and adults, and people from different backgrounds. 

This volatility was demonstrated during 2002 by an unanticipated increase in the number of people in Tasmanian prisons.  The daily count in October through to early November reached 480.

Effect of non-parole periods

The consultants were requested to investigate the likely implications of a 75% mandatory non-parole period for prisoner numbers to the year 2007 and again to the year 2020. 

To indicate possible numbers at various non-parole periods from 55 to 80 per cent, a number of scenario projections were developed based on the Modified Walker Model and applying the ABS's three population projection series. 

Using the highest population projection, Series I, and a non-parole period of 75 per cent, the prison population could expand up to 595 in late 2006. At 60 per cent non-parole, the population could be expected to be 542.