The Queensland Productivity Commission Inquiry into imprisonment and recidivism found imprisonment rates in Queensland were increasing despite declining crime rates.
The Inquiry found that 32 per cent of new prisoners since 2012 were incarcerated due to illicit drug offences. The Inquiry also found the rate of imprisonment of women is growing.
The Queensland Drug and Specialists Courts Review (2016) found that the majority of illicit drug offences tend to relate to minor drug offences such as possession and use.
Criminal justice system costs include policing, courts, sentencing, imprisonment and supervising non-custodial sentences. The direct cost of imprisonment in Queensland is almost $1 billion dollars per year.
Incarceration has profound adverse effects on prisoners, their families and the community.
The Queensland Government response to the Queensland Productivity Commission report included a commitment to increase the range of options available for drug use offences, including expanding treatment services for people who would otherwise go through the criminal justice system and increasing access to health responses.
A 'health response' is a term encompassing a range of health-focused interventions, including therapeutic psychosocial supports, information and assessment, and triage and referral.
Trajectories of criminal offending can be interrupted by offering diversion to health responses for individuals who have not committed other offences. Diversionary approaches channel individuals away from a criminal justice pathway. Such approaches enable proportionate responses based on the severity of harm involved in the use or supply of drugs.