A program to curb recidivism among former inmates is failing to stop Indigenous men returning to Canberra's jail.
While the ACT's Throughcare program cut recidivism by 23 per cent overall, Indigenous men were twice as likely to reoffend after getting out of jail than their non-Indigenous counterparts after going through the program, researchers from the University of New South Wales found.
Former ACT chief minister Jon Stanhope said he was "disappointed" the evaluation contained little data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander outcomes.
The 114-page UNSW evaluation of the program contained just 11 lines about Indigenous clients, he said.
"To me that begs a really important and fundamental question why, when you have two groups of prisoners, one of them Indigenous who constitute 25 per cent of the prison population and are massively over-represented in our prison ... there is not a single piece of quantitative data on the experience of Aboriginal participants in Throughcare," Mr Stanhope said.
"There is absolutely no information in the report at all about why the Aboriginal outcomes are twice as bad as non-Aboriginal outcomes."
Of the Indigenous male study group, 57.4 returned to custody, compared to 38.3 per cent of the control group.
The picture was marginally better against the Indigenous female control group, where 28.6 per cent did not go back to jail, compared to 33.3 per cent of the control group.
Despite the data limitations, a corrective services spokesperson said "it should not be interpreted as evidence that Throughcare has not been broadly beneficial for male Aboriginal clients".
However corrective services were unable to provide the recidivism rate before the program commenced for Indigenous ex-inmates.
Their spokesperson said while ACT Corrective Services reports recidivism rates in the Productivity Commission's Report on Governments Services (ROGS), this data is not distilled based on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status.
Mr Stanhope said the way the evaluation was designed effectively rendered Aboriginal clients "invisible".
"I think the situation we find ourselves in now, the government quite clearly needs to commission further evaluation specifically designed to answer questions in relation to the outcomes for Aboriginal participants," Mr Stanhope said.
But the corrective services spokesperson said the evaluation had been robust enough to demonstrate the need for more resources for Indigenous clients.
"In assessing recidivism rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male and female clients, the evaluation has clearly identified a significant area of need and increased focus for the Extended Throughcare program going forward," the spokesperson said.
"In recognising these concerns, these will be strongly considered as part of future policy development and service delivery of this program and related government programs.
"This will also be considered in conjunction with other government funded services such as the partnership with Winnunga on the Justice Reinvestment trial due to commence in coming months."
Continued funding for the program is currently being considered for the upcoming ACT budget.
Introduced in 2013, the ACT government spent $4.7 million on the pilot program, which ends this financial year.
The program costs about $4700 per ex-inmate, a cost described as "relatively marginal" compared to the $120,000 spent on keeping them in the AMC.
- About three-quarters of offenders in the ACT's jail have been in custody before.
- Repeat offenders have an average of six return episodes, and as high as 24 episodes.
- Inmates spend on average about 10 months in custody
- About 30 per cent of offenders are released on parole, 30 per cent on good behaviour orders, 30 per cent on no orders, and 10 per cent on bail.
- Those released with no orders are considered to be at the greatest risk of post-release crisis because they lack any form of contact with services or support.