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Bonds, Suspended Sentences and Reoffending: Does the Length of the Order Matter

NCJ Number
Suzanne Poyton; Don Weatherburn
Date Published
July 2013
6 pages
This Australian (New South Wales) study examined whether the length of a good-behavior bond or suspended sentence length influences the risk of reoffending, and a second study objective was to determine whether supervision moderated the effects of order length.
The study findings support the hypothesis that offenders placed on long (24 months or more) good behavior bonds or long (12 month or more) suspended sentences are less likely to reoffend than offenders placed on short bond or short suspended sentences; however, it is important to note that although a large number of factors known to influence bond/suspended sentence length and reconviction were controlled, it is possible some omitted variable is responsible for the observed relationship between length and reoffending. The authors suggest how future research in this area could be strengthened. Both supervised and unsupervised offenders who received long bonds took longer, on average, to reoffend. This was also the case with offenders on suspended sentences. Implications of these findings for sentencing legislation in New South Wales are discussed. Propensity score matching (PSM) was used to match all groups being compared. In PSM, individuals who receive a treatment (e.g., long bond or long suspended sentence) are matched with untreated individuals who are equally likely to receive the treatment but did not receive it. Individuals are matched on the basis of a propensity score, which is the conditional probability of receiving the treatment given a set of observed covariates. Outcomes (e.g., reoffending) are then compared between matched groups. 8 tables and 6 references