Imprisonment is the most severe sentencing order available in Victoria. Under this order, an offender’s freedom is restricted by confining them in prison.
Imprisonment is imposed in around 74% of cases in the higher courts and in around 12% of cases in the Magistrates’ Court (2020–21).
When imposing a sentence of imprisonment, courts in Victoria must usually set a non-parole period. This is the minimum amount of time that the person must spend in prison before they can be considered for release on parole.
The court’s ability to set a non-parole period depends on the length of imprisonment:
- the court must usually set a non-parole period for a sentence of imprisonment of more than two years
- the court can decide whether or not to set a non-parole period for a sentence of imprisonment of between one year and two years
- the court cannot set a non-parole period for a sentence of imprisonment of less than one year.
If the sentencing court imposes a term of imprisonment but does not set a non-parole period, the offender must serve their entire sentence in prison.
For some offences, a minimum non-parole period must be imposed, unless a special reason exists.
Some people are held in custody on remand while awaiting sentence. When this happens, courts are required to deduct the time someone has spent in custody from their sentence. Sometimes, a sentence of imprisonment will be equal to the time that the person has already spent in custody (known as time served prison sentences).
Imprisonment under Sentencing Schemes
For some offences, special considerations must be taken into account in deciding whether to impose a sentence of imprisonment, and for how long. Further information about these considerations is included on our Sentencing Schemes page.
Management of Prisoners
Corrections Victoria administers Victoria’s adult prisons. These facilities include remand centres for people awaiting trial or sentence, minimum security correctional centres and maximum security prisons. There are separate prisons for men and women.
Corrections Victoria publishes monthly statistics on prisoners and offenders in Victoria.
An offender convicted of certain sexual offences may be required to remain in prison if the Supreme Court is satisfied that they pose an unacceptable risk of committing a further sexual offence after release.
A continuing detention order may be made for a period of up to three years. The order may be renewed if the risk of reoffending remains. A continuing detention order must be reviewed at least once every year.
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