If a court imposes a prison sentence of less than 2 years, it may direct that the sentence be served by way of an Intensive Correction Order (ICO) in the community. This is a serious crime prevention order which is considered a more lenient sentence because the offender can live amongst the community, do community service, and commit to rehabilitative programs, whilst being closely monitored by Corrective Services.
This alternative to full time imprisonment is becoming a popular option with sentencing courts as it has been found to decrease recidivism rates amongst offenders.
This sentence was just recently used in the case of Steven Rootsey, who was convicted of fraud and dealing with proceeds of crime after being caught selling non-existent puppies to the public. Rather than face imprisonment, Rootsey was sentenced to a two-year ICO with standard conditions that he not commit any further offences during that period.
What is an Intensive Corrections Order?
An Intensive Corrections Order (ICO) is the most serious court-mandated sentence which can be served amongst the community. It can only be given for a sentence that is two years or less, and is only available to eligible offenders under strict guidelines and supervision of Community Corrections.
ICOs are still technically a “custodial sentence”, as they do involve a form of imprisonment i.e. home detention, monitoring, supervision, however they remain a highly sought-after result for crimes that are deemed more serious. However, they are not eligible for any offender or any sentence and there are strict mandatory requirements that you will need to meet to be eligible. One of the most important aspects of eligibility is the type of crime you commit. Some offences such as rape, murder, or terrorism are deemed too serious to be eligible for a home detention. Moreover, if you are fortunate enough to receive an ICO sentencing, there are strict guidelines and conditions you must obey in order to avoid further, more serious punishment.
Who is eligible for an Intensive Corrections Order?
To be deemed eligible for an intensive corrections order, the offender must be over 18 years of age, be a suitable candidate for intensive correction within the community, and have signed an undertaking to comply with the obligations of the ICO. The circumstances of the crime must also be taken into consideration, and an ICO must be deemed appropriate considering all circumstances of the case i.e. whether they may commit further offences, are a danger to the public, or themselves.
Intensive Corrections Orders are under the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 No 93, sections 80-83, which set out the conditions governing the orders, administration of these orders, obligations of the offenders, and the duration of an ICO.
Who is not eligible for an Intensive Corrections Order?
Intensive correction orders are strictly regulated and are only approved for specific cases based on the legislation. This means that there are eligibility standards that must be met to be sentenced with an intensive correction order. Offenders that are ineligible to receive an ICO include juveniles (those aged under 18) and those residing in different jurisdictions.
What offences cannot receive an Intensive Correction Order?
Intensive correction orders can also not be granted for more serious crimes in which imprisonment is the only appropriate penalty. These criminal offences include:
- Sexual assault or a prescribed sexual offence
- Sexual offences against a child,
- Terrorism offences
- Offences related to the discharge of a firearm
- Commission, conspiracy, or incitement to commit aforementioned crimes
Intensive correction order sentences are also not given to domestic violence offenders unless the presiding magistrate is satisfied that the alleged victim will not reside with the offender, and that they will be protected. For the same reason, home detention is also not a viable condition if the alleged offender is living with the alleged victim.
What are the conditions of Intensive Correction Orders?
Conditions of an intensive correction order include standard conditions such as supervision by a community corrections officer and not committing any further offences during the course of the sentence. Other mandatory intensive correction order conditions and requirements include:
- Residing only at prescribed premises
- Not leaving NSW or Australia without permission from Corrective Services or the State Parole Authority
- Receive supervisor for home visits and comply with directions
- Authorise doctor or therapist to provide supervisor with relevant information
- Submit to searches
- No possession of drugs, alcohol, firearms
- Community service work (32 hours per month)
- Curfew, and complying with curfew as directed
- Participation in programs to address offending behaviour
Additional intensive correction order conditions may also be imposed by New South Wales courts (at least one additional condition is mandatory, unless exceptional circumstances are present). If an additional condition is revoked, it must be replaced by another additional condition to ensure at least one remains. These further conditions of an intensive correction order may include:
- Home detention
- Electronic monitoring
- Rehabilitation or treatment condition
- Abstention from alcohol, drugs, or both
- A non-association condition with certain persons e.g. criminal acquaintances or friends, or gangs
- A place restriction condition with certain places or areas e.g. a bikie clubhouse, known criminal hangout, or suburb of a domestic violence victim
While we all possess the intrinsic right to freedom of movement, these rights can be restricted in order to protect national security, public health, morals and/or order. As such, a court can impose imprisonment, detention, house arrest, and curfews on convicted offenders to protect the community while they undergo rehabilitation, punishment, or both.
Curfews that are imposed for intensive correction orders are generally 12 hours in length in any 24 hour period, for example, a curfew period of 6pm to 6am every day. This means that between these hours, you are to remain in the dwelling that you have registered with the parole authority.
Community service is technically a non-custodial form of punishment and is seen as a way for an offender to repay the community through unpaid work. Through doing good works, the offender might also achieve some sense of rehabilitation. In fact, community service leads to a 46.6% reduction in recidivism compared to recidivism rates of offenders who served prison sentences.
The type of community service work can range from menial tasks, to maintenance of public spaces, or participating in community and charity events. Offenders will not be required to do work they are not capable of, however they will be required to comply to the best of their ability. The following conditions or requirements may also be imposed:
- Alcohol or drug testing before community service work
- An offender can not do more than 8 hours of community service in one day
- Failure to show up can result in being taken into custody, or further conditions
More than 48,000 offenders participated in one or more rehabilitative programs addressing criminogenic needs between 2017 and 2018, according to Corrective Services NSW.
Rehabilitation is an important factor in reducing recidivism and allowing offenders to reenter society as positive, contributing members. To help facilitate this growth, therapeutic and rehabilitative programs are offered to offenders to improve their coping mechanisms and capabilities regarding certain aspects of their life, whether it be drugs, alcohol, or rage-related issues.
Corrective services have 30 accredited programs for offenders which are specifically designed to target offending behaviours and reduce the risk of reoffending. These programs cover the following categories:
- Aggression and violence
- General offending
- Reintegration interventions
- Sexual offending
- Young Adult Offenders
- Health promotion
Can the Intensive Correction Order conditions be changed, suspended, or revoked?
The sentences of intensive correction orders are subject to change depending on the circumstances, and whether the offender is complying with the obligations set out for them. These changes can be positive or negative.
The positive way that conditions can be changed or suspended is if the community corrections officer is satisfied that a condition can be lifted. Supervisors of convicted offenders have the power to suspend regulations, while also retaining the power to make that suspension unconditional or subject to further conditions, under section 82A(4) of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act.
The negative way that conditions can be changed is by revocation of conditions, revocation of suspensions, or addition of further conditions, if necessary. Supervisors and parole authorities have the ability to impose additional conditions if the offender has breached their obligations, or the judicial member of the Parole Authority has reasonable ground to believe the following:
- The offender failed to comply with their obligations under the ICO order
- There is serious and immediate risk that the offender will attempt to flee the state or country
- That there is an immediate risk that the offender will commit an offence, or harm another person.
Breaches of Intensive Correction Orders
A breach is when an offender fails to comply with the agreed upon conditions, such as failing to meet curfew or refusing to show up for community service.
As these are mandatory conditions of the intensive correction order, not meeting the imposed conditions can result in changing, suspension, or even revocation of the ICO. However, the options are often left to the discretion of the community corrections officer supervising the offender, and will depend on whether the breaches are deemed serious or not.
Less serious breaches can be dealt with in a number of ways, including:
- Recording the breach and taking no formal action
- Providing an informal warming
- Give a formal warning that further breaches will result in referral to the Parole Authority
- Giving direction about non-compliant behaviour
- Imposing a curfew
More serious breaches may result in formal warning, imposition of further additional conditions on the ICO, or revocation of the ICO entirely, leading to a sentence of imprisonment..
Are intensive correction orders effective?
Intensive correction orders are intended as a rehabilitative approach to sentencing which may prevent recidivism and be better for positive social reintegration than the more traditional approach of imprisonment which prohibits this by separating offenders from society entirely.
Evidence suggests that ICOs are more effective than detention in terms of reoffending rates, according to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
How long can an intensive correction order last?
An intensive correction order is a court sentence which can last up to two years. Therefore, an ICO will not exceed two years, however, the length of time within that will be entirely dependent on the sending magistrate’s decision and the circumstances of the case. The ICO will expire at the termination date of the sentence, unless revoked earlier by the relevant parole authority.
Is an intensive correction order a conviction and will I have a criminal record?
An intensive correction order is a criminal conviction and will be included on your criminal record.
Intensive Correction Order examples
Here are some case studies: