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Glossary and Prison Terminology

This glossary is intended as a general guide to some of the terms you may meet in working alongside the Criminal Justice System and criminal justice clients.

Prison Slang


A person who is not present when a crime is committed but who either takes part in its preparation (accessory before the fact) or assists the offender to escape detention (Accessory after the fact). Being an accessory is to commit a crime.


A reference to a person charged with an offence also known as the defendant.

ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Inmates

Persons held in New South Wales (NSW) correctional centres under warrants from ACT courts.


Discharge from prosecution upon a verdict of not guilty.

Additional Term

The portion of a sentence for which an inmate may be released on parole.


Putting off a case until another date. A defendant may seek an adjournment to obtain legal advice or to prepare their case. Where a person is pleading not guilty, the matter will be adjourned for the prosecution to serve a brief of evidence, and again for a defended hearing. Where a defendant is pleading guilty, the matter may be adjourned for a presentence or background report.

Adult Drug Court

Court diversion of adult drug offenders into treatment(Ss7,12 Drug Court Act).


A written statement of the truth of which is sworn or affirmed. For example, it can be used to state income/expenditure in debt cases or to confirm that a summons has been properly served. It must be witnessed by a solicitor of Justice of the Peace. In some cases (eg. family law) most evidence is provided by affidavit. With the other party having the opportunity to question the person who has sworn the affidavit. Affidavits are not used very often in criminal matters in the Local or Children's Court.


A statement may be "affirmed" rather than "sworn" on oath if a person wishes. An affirmation usually accommodates persons with non-Christian, Islamic or Jewish beliefs.

Afforestation Camps

Open correctional centres associated with pine forest plantations. Camps are now diversifying away from previous afforestation employment. A part of CSI (Corrective Services Industries).

Aggregate Sentence

The combined total of all sentences being served by an inmate.


The Australian Institute of Criminology, located in Canberra. Provides a forum for discussion and research of issues.


Australian National Classification of Offences, a system of standardised numerical codes for offences.


The decisions of courts may be reconsidered by higher courts. All inmates are legally entitled to appeal to a higher court against their conviction and sentence or against the severity of sentence.

Apprehended Violence

To threaten someone with words or actions so that they fear for their safety.

Apprehended Violence Order

An Apprehended Violence Order is a court order that prohibits a person from harassing, intimidating or threatening (or sometimes contacting) another person. Obtaining an AVO is a civil action, however if the AVO is broken it becomes a criminal offence.


In civil claims cases the court can appoint an independent person, at the request of either party, to arbitrate in order to settle a dispute.


Assault is a criminal offence and involves touching (usually hitting, kicking, etc) someone without their consent or causing them to fear immediate violence (eg. pointing a weapon at them). Reasonable actions done in self-defence do not amount to assault.

Authorises Absences

See Leave of Absence


(may be granted by the Police or the Court) An agreement to attend court to answer a criminal charge. Everyone has the right to be free until conviction. Conditions on one's freedom may be imposed however. If bail is denied or the conditions cannot be met there is a right of review. Bail conditions can be altered on application.


A court officer who carries out some of the enforcement procedures of the higher courts in civil cases.


A delivery of goods from one person (the bailor) to another (the bailee) for some purpose, upon an express or implied contract that the goods will be redelivered to the bailor when that purpose has been fulfilled, eg. delivering clothes to a drycleaner creates a bailment. A contract may be implied from the behaviour of the parties.

Barristers / Solicitors

Lawyers who specialise in courtroom advocacy and usually specialise in particular areas of law. Solicitors brief Barristers to represent their clients in court or to give them options about the law in a particular case.

Bench Warrant

A warrant issued for the arrest of an accused person who failed to appear in Court.


A sentence under which a person is able to live in the community rather than serve a period in prison. Conditions may be attached for a set period, eg "to be of good behaviour", to enter a certain program, etc. To breach a bond is to risk being re-sentenced to prison.

Burden of proof / Onus of proof

In criminal cases, the prosecution bears the burden of proof. In civil cases, it is the plaintiff. Sometimes the burden shifts, eg. If the defendant wants to set up a particular defence.


Court Attendance Notice. The attendance notice tells you the day when your case will be heard. On that date, the Court will want to know whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty to the offence listed in the notice.

Call Over

A type of mention, the purpose of which is to determine the parties' readiness to proceed.


In civil law, a form of security for the payment of a debt or the performance of an obligation. In criminal law, the allegation that a person has committed an offence.

Chamber Registrar

Court official with legal training who will advise anyone, free of charge and assist in filing court documents, issuing summonses, etc.

Civil Case

A case which does not involve a person being prosecuted for an offence, but which involves disputes between individuals, companies or occasionally an individual and the State. It will usually involve one person suing another for the payment of a debt, compensation etc. As opposed to criminal cases, where the charge must be beyond reasonable doubt, the outcome of a civil case is decided on the balance of probability.

Concurrent Sentence

Two or more sentences imposed on an inmate which are served within the time of the longest sentence.


A proceeding in the Local Court to determine if there is a case to answer in a higher court.

Common law

Law based on court decisions and definitions as opposed to Acts of Parliament. Lower courts are bound by the ruling of higher courts.


A victim in a criminal case, or a person applying for an apprehended violence order.

Compulsory Drug Treatment Program

Court staged custodial/non-custodial sentence for habitual offenders with drug dependencies. Refer to Drug Court Act 1998 & Crimes (Administration of Sentences Act 1999 Part 4A.

Contempt of Court

The failure to obey a court order, or an act which shows a disregard for the authority of the court or judge. A person in contempt may face imprisonment.


An agreement that can be enforced in court. With some exceptions (eg. those involving land) the agreement can be verbal as well as written.

Coroner's Court

A type of Local Court set up to conduct an inquest to determine the cause of death in some cases. Its findings must precede the laying of any criminal charges.

Correctional Centre Release Treatment Scheme

Coordinated care and case management to released inmates.

COS (Community Offender Services)

see also Probation & Parole Offer pre and post- sentence assessments and advice to Courts and releasing authorities. COS are involved in a range of community-based interventions which take into account community protection, compliance by offenders with Court orders, restitution to the community, and the personal and developmental needs of offenders in addressing their offending behaviour.

COSPs (Community Offender Support Programs)

The major programs delivered by Community Offender Services are: Court Advice and Pre-release reports; Probation supervision; Parole supervision; Intensive Supervision; Community Service Orders; Community Funding Programs; Victims Services and Periodic Detention.

Community Service Order (C.S.O.)

An alternative to prison in which a person carries out a number of hours of unpaid work in the community, supervised by the Community Offender Support (formally Probation and Parole) or Department of Juvenile Justice.

Counter Claim

If a person responds to being sued by making an opposing claim the case can be heard under a single action.

Court Bail to Treatment

Of offenders with drug problems - s36a Bail Act 1978.

Criminal Case/Matter

One in which prosecutes an individual for offending the State (usually the police). Such a case must be proved "beyond reasonable doubt".

CSI (Corrective Services Industries)

A government - business enterprise and an organisational unit of DCS, which allows inmates to participate in work programs to assist their rehabilitation and enhance their opportunity for post release employment.

Cumulative or Consecutive Sentence

A sentence of imprisonment which is to commence at the end of another sentence which has already been imposed.


The condition of being in the care of the police, Corrective Services or Juvenile Justice as opposed being at liberty in the community.

Default Judgment

Where the plaintiff is able to obtain judgment in the absence of an appearance or a defence.

Deferral of Sentences

Court may defer sentence for up to 12 months and bail offender to treatment (s11 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999).


An accused person in a criminal case. In a civil case, the person against whom a claim is made.


One in whose name an affidavit is sworn.


A person held in custody on a commonwealth warrant pending deportation, or a periodic detainee.


The release of an inmate from a correctional centre or PDC (Periodic Detention Centre) to bail, court, not convicted, no sentence imposed, fine paid, appeal upheld, police custody, parole, at expiration of sentence etc.

District Court

The court immediately above the Local Court. With criminal and civil cases that are too serious for the Local Court, but not serious enough for the Supreme Court.

Diversionary programs

Programs designed to provide the courts with alternatives to terms of full time imprisonment for convicted persons. Includes Community Service Orders, Periodic Detention and Intensive Community Supervision programs.

Dry Cell

Bare cell in which self-harming inmates or inmates suspected of having swallowed contraband may be monitored while being temporarily held.

Double Jeopardy

The rule against Double Jeopardy means that a person may not be tried or punished twice for the same offence.

DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions)

The NSW Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for: to institute and conduct, on behalf of the Crown, prosecutions for indictable offences (under NSW laws) in the Supreme Court and the District Court; appeals in any court in respect of any such prosecution; and to conduct on behalf of the Crown as respondent, any appeal in any court in respect of any such prosecution. (See section 7(1) of the DPP Act.).

Duty Solicitor

A solicitor present at the court and paid for by the Legal Aid Commission. Will represent people subject to a means and merit test.

Examination Summons

The calling of a person before a registrar in order to examine all their documents and assets under civil claims matters.

Ex-officio Indictment

The Attorney General has the power to indict a person to face trial, without having the benefit of a committal hearing.

Ex parte

In the absence of one of the parties. A court may deal with the matter ex parte if one party (usually the defendant) fails to appear.

Fail to Appeal

If you fail to appear at any court hearing or mention at which you are expected to appear, then you may be charged with 'fail to appear'; you may be convicted in your absence and a warrant may be issued for your arrest. You may have difficulty getting bail in future.

Family Law

Any case dealing with divorce, property, custody, access and maintenance between legally married couples. A federal jurisdiction heard in the Family Court, or disputes about residence and contact of children whether parents are married or not.

Federal Law

Laws enacted by Federal Parliament eg, customs, immigration and social security. Can be administered by state courts.


A type of crime of supposed greater seriousness than a misdemeanour (but now of little real distinction).

Fine Default

Failure to pay a fine resulting in other sentencing options. For example, a sentence of imprisonment being imposed.

Fine Default Order

A court order which allows an offender to undertake community service instead of paying a fine. The offender must apply to the court for such an order.

FitnessTo Plead

Capacity of a defendant to plead may be effected by physical or mental condition on a temporary or long term basis.

Fixed Term

The term of imprisonment set by the court under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, which an offender must serve in custody prior to unconditional release.

Forensic Patient

A person detained under the Mental Health Act 1990, and subject to periodic review by the Mental Health Review Tribunal. This occurs when a person is: deemed by the court to be unfit to plea; found not guilty due to diminished responsibility; scheduled during incarceration(see Mental Health Act 1990).


To obtain material advantage by unfair or wrongful means. Often linked to false cheques.

Friend of the Court

A recognition of standing in the court outside of the usual one. Such a one can assist the court by providing information and/or promising to take certain actions in regard to someone before the court.


An order of the court for someone (usually an employer or banker) who owes a debt or money to pay that money to the debtor's creditor.

Good Behaviour Bonds

also known as Recognisance An order of the court that you be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. If you comply, there is no further penalty. If you fail to comply you may be summoned for sentencing.


A person who promises to be responsible for the debt of another. Equally liable to pay if the debtor defaults.

Habeas Corpus

'To have the body'. A prerogative writ directed to a person who holds someone in custody commanding them to produce that person before a court.


A trial or court action, as opposed to a mention or a call over. Evidence can be taken and decisions of guilt or liability made.


To report what you heard another say. Usually not admitted as evidence.

Head Sentence

Applies to Commonwealth, ACT and interstate inmates only. The combined total of all sentences being served including any non-parole periods.

High Court

The highest court in Australia and the senior court of appeal from both state and federal courts.

Home Detention

Involves serving a gaol sentence at home. There are strict conditions that must be agreed to and Corrective Services NSW make the assessment on eligibility of home detention.

In Camera

The hearing of a case in the absence of the public.


Crimes which can be tried by a judge and jury. Whether or not they are, is sometimes up to the defendant. Such a case begins as a committal in a Local Court.


A person who begins a court action, either criminal or civil, by laying on information before that court.


An order by which the party to a court action is required to do or not do a certain thing. This can often be obtained to prevent something happening so that a court can make a decision.


An inquiry made by a Coroner's Court into any person's death that is unexplained or suspicious. This must precede the laying of any charges.


A lawyer takes his/her directions from the client. The client thus determines the plea etc, not the lawyer. To fail to follow instructions is a breach of professional conduct.


also known as Mens Rea In most cases a person must have intended to commit the action before they can be found guilty of a crime. Certain factors such as extreme youth, intellectual disability, mental illness or intoxication may affect the person's capacity to form a 'intent'.


A person who sits on District or Supreme Court, often with a jury.


The court has the power to hear a case.


A body of people selected to determine matters of fact, as opposed to law, in a trial. Only indictable offences at District Court level or higher are heard in this way.


To charge someone with an offence is often referred to as "laying a charge".


Theft in general. May appear in charges as stealing, steal a motor vehicle, etc.

Law Society

The regulatory body for the legal profession. Complaints about solicitors conduct can be directed to Law Society and Legal Services Commission.

Leave of Absence (LOA)

Full time inmates Program to re-establish link's in the community. Orders and permits are granted under certain conditions.

Short absences form correctional centres are either :

  • Escorted - for a specific purpose, for eg. To attend a funeral, attend a job interview or to have specialised medical treatment. Usually for day leave only. Inmate must not consume alcohol or entre licensed premises. Inmate is escorted by an authorised person: or
  • Unescorted - for purposes such as education, training or resettlement. Inmate is allowed to be absent from a correctional centre under prescribed conditions but without an escort. Maximum of seven days, may be for weekend or day leave only.

Leave of Absence -

Periodic Detainees May be granted by the officer in charge of the Periodic Detention Centre. Time granted for LOA must be served prior to expiration of sentence. May be compulsorily ordered by Officer in Charge of the periodic detention Centre if the detainee is unfit for work due to an infectious disease or health /hygiene hazard.

Legal Aid

People can obtain legal aid provided they pass the means and merit tests in some matters. This aid can be in the form of advice or direct representation from the Legal Aid Commission or, less frequently through one's own solicitor who is paid by the Legal Aid Commission.

Let Go

Morning release of inmates from the wings. See also Lock in.

Lock down

All inmates are kept in their cells due to staff shortages or incident. No visits by families or external workers.

Lock In

Daily securing of inmates in wings for the night. Usually takes place in late afternoon in high security, and during the evening in lower security correctional centres.

Long Term Prisoner

An inmate who is: serving life; a forensic patient; or (for classification purposes only ) is serving a sentence or sentences that require the person to be imprisoned for more than 12mths. - Refer definitions Prisons General Regulations 1989.


Name given to any form of court action, usually civil.

Local Court

The most commonly used court, hearing over 90% of criminal cases and all civil cases under $60,000. Magistrates sit in Local Courts without juries and hear summary cases and some indictable ones.

Locus Standi

Place of standing; the right to be heard in a court.

LSI-R (Level of Service Inventory Revised)

A qualitative survey of an offender's attributes and their situation, relevant to the decisions regarding level of service required while in the Corrective Services NSW.


A person who hears cases in Local Courts and Children's Courts. Presides (without a jury) over hearings, committals and bail applications.

Magistrate's Court

An alternative name for Local Court.


An order issued by a superior court or an official to a lower court. Or a contract by which one party agrees to perform services for another without payment.


What is before the courts, a case.

Maximum Security

Maximum security correctional centres hold inmates whose escape would be highly dangerous to members of the public or the security of the state. They have secure perimeter walls that have towers or electronic surveillance equipment. All remand centres are maximum security.

Means Test

Assistance from the Legal Aid Commission is subject to an assessment of both income and assets. No means test is necessary for children in criminal matters.


An alternative to court action, it is the settlement of disputes by Community Justice Centres who use specially trained mediators.

Medical Segregation

Physical separation of inmate diagnosed as carrying infectious disease.

Minimum Term

Under the provisions of Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, Part 4 courts may set a minimum term. At the expiry of the minimum term the offender is eligible for parole.

Medium Security

Medium security correctional centres are normally surrounded by walls or high security fences, but inmates move around inside more freely than in maximum security.

Mens Rea

(See also, Intent) A guilty mind, the intention or knowledge that an act is wrong.


This is an appearance in court to determine if a case is ready to proceed. If it is, then a hearing date can be set. To say something about a case other than to plead, is to "mention it". Thus the phrase, "to plea or mention."


Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment program. MERIT is a court diversion program for the treatment of adult offenders with illicit drug problems who are suitable for bail (s36a Bail Act).

Merit Test

One of the considerations of the Legal Aid Commission in granting legal aid in appeals or civil cases is the merit of the case. This is usually an assessment of the likelihood of the person, applying for legal aid, winning the case.

MIN (Master Index Number)

When imprisoned inmates are issued with a MIN Number that stays with them throughout their prison history.

Minimum Security

Minimum security correctional centres hold inmates who can be trusted in open conditions where there are fewer physical barriers to escape.


A type of crime less serious than a felony. Now of little practical distinction.


Once a person pleads or is found guilty he or she can put forward any factors that will help lessen the penalty.

Natural Justice

General "rules" and procedures determining how our courts or government officials make their decisions, the denial of which can be grounds for appeal.


Failure to take "reasonable" care to avoid possible injury to others can mean a person is liable for compensation.

NSW Juvenile Justice (Formerly Department of Juvenile Justice or DJJ's)

Also known as JJ's Supervises and cares for young offenders in the community and in detention centres. It provides youth justice conferences for young offenders referred by police or the courts.


A promise made by a witness to tell the truth, sworn on the bible or other religious book, such as Qur'an or Torah. It is an offence to lie under oath.

Onus or Burden of Proof

The obligation to prove what is alleged.


Offender Integrated Management System.

ORB (Offenders Review Board)

Determines applications for parole by inmates serving a total determinate sentence of more than three years.

ORS (Offender Records System)

Computerised record of inmates' sentences, prison offences, location, release date, etc.

OS & P Staff

Offender Services & Programs Staff.


Conditional release of an inmate from custody. The parolee lives in the community usually after serving a prison sentence and usually subject to post release supervision by the Community Offenders Service (COS), normally for the period of the additional sentence (maximum 3 years). Parole is determined by the ORB if the original sentence was of over three years.

Particulars and Betters

A request issued by a person, who has been served with a summons or statement of claim in a civil case, to the plaintiff, in order to obtain more information.

PDC (Periodic Detention Centre)

A centre for the serving of sentences of periodic imprisonment. Usually served between Friday evening and Sunday evening until the expiration of the sentence. Initiatives have now been taken to extend this to mid-week detention as well. Where ever possible inmates are utilised on community work.

Periodic Detention

When an inmate is detained in prisn for two days per week. Inmates may be required to do some unpaid work during detention.


Assignment of an inmate to the correctional centre most appropriate to the security classification of the inmate and the individual's needs assessment.

Prescribed Property

Personal property approved for retention at a correctional centre for inmates of a particular classification level. Includes reception room property and cell property. Periodic Detention Centre inmates are allowed only such items as the officer in charge will approve.


The person who initiates legal proceedings against another in a civil dispute.


To reply to a charge to state whether one is guilty or not guilty.

Police Cannabis Cautions

Given to adult offenders in possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Police Cautions and Youth Conferencing

Under Young Offenders Act (More Serious Offences) The young offender, with his/her family is brought face to face with the victim & victim support group to hear about the harm caused.

Police Warnings

Under Young Offenders Act given to young people for minor drug offences.

PRC (Program Review Committees)

Review classification, placement and developmental programs of long term inmates at each centre at least once every six months. Recommendations are forwarded to inmate Classification

Committees for ratification. PRCs also review developmental programs determined by Reception Committees. Refer Pt 2 cl 15 Prison Regulations 1989.

Pre-Sentence Report

Magistrates can call on the Community Offenders Service (COS) formally known as Probation and Parole, to prepare a pre-sentence report on a defendant before they decide on a sentence. The COS officer will make recommendations in this report as to an appropriate sentence.

Prisoner Classification Committees

Manage the continuing classification action of inmates and other placement based on the Program Review Committee recommendations. Committees comprise of a Manager or Dep. Manager Prison Classification an industries officer, a programs officer, a psychologist, a parole officer and other persons as determined by the Commissioner. Refer cl10-17 Prison Regulations 1989.


Release from court subject to a recognisance (or bond) on conditional freedom without a sentence of imprisonment being served. There is a range of conditions which can be imposed by the sentencing court, including supervision of the offender by the Community Offenders Service. The offender must agree to the conditions of the order.

Probation Service

see also COSPs Persons on probation are supervised by the Probation Service/COS. Magistrates often call upon these officers to give pre-sentence reports.


An act which prevents the use of reason and self-control.


Inmates are segregated from the normal correctional centre population at their own request or by the order of the governor due to a potential threat to the safety of an individual. Protection inmates are usually held in groups with similar requirements.

Public Solicitor

Alternative name for duty solicitor.


All inmates go through screening and induction program. Procedures involved in admitting an inmate to a correctional centre which include:-informing offenders of their rights, entitlements and obligations; dealing with private property; identification of special needs and suitable developmental programs.


A person with a history of re-offending.


Repeated or habitual relapse, as into crime.


The person generally in charge of a Local Court. In smaller courts he or she is often the same person as the Chamber Registrar. They keep records and sign certain kinds of documents. May sit in civil claims proceedings in order to determine if parties can agree and must pass the case on to a magistrate if they cannot.


Alternative name for bond. See Good Behaviour Bond.


Refers to being detained in custody before and during trial, having been refused bail, being unable to meet bail conditions or not having applied for bail.

Remand Centre

Holds inmates awaiting bail, court appearances or sentencing after conviction. Also holds inmates when awaiting vacancy at a centre of their identified classification. All remand centres are maximum security.

Restorative Justice

Addresses the needs of victims of crime and encourages custodial and community offenders to face up to the consequences of their actions, thereby reducing the likelihood of reoffending.

Section 10 Order

An order allowing dismissal of charges and conditional discharge of offender under Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.

Section 32 Order

An order allowing the Prosecutor to file list of additional charges. In any proceedings for an offence (the principal offence), the prosecutor may file in the court a document that specifies other offences with which the offender has been charged, but not convicted(see Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999).

Security Assessment

Process of determining the appropriate security classification of an inmate for his/her placement in the correctional system.

Security Classification

The grading of an inmate based on the assessment of degree of jeopardy to the good order of the correctional centre, escape and public risk. All inmates are classified to an appropriate security level by either their local reception committee or the classification committee after sentencing. Possible classifications are stated in sections 22, 23 & 24 of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Regulation 2008

Security Level

The physical barriers and surveillance measures in place to prevent escape from a correctional centre and control inmate behaviour.


Separation of inmates for own protection and/or the protection of others or the good order and discipline of the centre. Maximum continuous period of six months unless approved by Minister. May be initiated by the governor or inmates. (See Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 No 93 Div 2 (Previously Section 22 under Prisons Act 1952.)


The sanction or judgement imposed by a court or judicial body. Under the Sentencing Act 1989, a sentence of imprisonment is a fixed term or a minimum term plus an additional term. A minimum term is the sentence of imprisonment that must be served in custody and the additional term is the portion of the sentence that may be served on parole in the community.


A person who pleads guilty, or is found guilty, may wish to call evidence in mitigation of the penalty; that is, to minimise the penalty. Matters taken into account at sentencing include: age, good character, previous good record, and the circumstances of the offence.


The delivering of a court document to a person. Notice must be given and certain conditions met depending on the type of case.


A state official who administrates court security and procedures, such as enforcing debts in civil cases.

SORB (Serious Offenders Review Board)

A statutory body constituted under the Prisons Act whose functions are to prepare reports for Supreme Court in respect of applications for determination of minimum and additional terms for existing life sentences, prepare reports for ORB regarding the release on parole of inmates serving life sentences and to make revocations and variations of licences for former life sentence inmates who have been released to the community.


State Parole Authority.

Special Needs Unit

Established to define and meet needs of inmates including social skills, life skills, AIDS management, drug and alcohol education treatment, personality interpersonal and behavioural problems.

Special Treatment

Segregation or partial segregation of an inmate from the general correctional centre, population for a period for reasons of security or safety of the individual. Not imposed as a punishment for an offence or breach of discipline.

Standard Of Proof

The level to which something must be proved in court. In criminal matters, the standard is 'beyond reasonable doubt'; in civil matters, it is 'on the balance of probabilities'.

Statute Law

Law made by an Act of Parliament, as opposed to common law.

Statutory Declaration

A written statement declared true in front of a Justice of the Peace or solicitor. Used instead of an affidavit in cases not going to court.


To suspend or postpone court proceedings or orders.

Strictly Indictable

Offences means they must go to the District or Supreme Court (usually after going through committal proceedings in the Local or Children's Court), eg.murder, most types of robberies and sexual assaults, serious drug supply offences.


An accused person can make submissions as to why they should not be convicted. These can be made without giving evidence. However, once made the accused may not be allowed to call evidence on their behalf.


A court order requiring a person or documents to be present for an examination or hearing. May be issued at the request of those involved in the case.

Summary Offence

A criminal proceeding presided over by a magistrate only, without a jury.

Supreme Court

The highest court in NSW. Deals with more serious civil and criminal cases, and also deals with appeals from Local, Children's and District Court on issues of law.


A person who puts up money as a condition of another's bail and loses it if he or she fails to appear.

Suspended Sentences

Court diversion of offenders sentenced to up to 2 years gaol to good behaviour bonds (& conditions to enter treatment). (see s12 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999)


The evidence of a witness in court under oath or affirmation.


The process of effectively managing offenders from their first point of contact to the completion of their legal orders and their transition to law-abiding community living.


An official copy of a court's proceedings.

Transitional Care

Non-prison custodial treatment programs for female inmates .


The process of proving a case, also more loosely called a hearing. This is different from merely determining dates and taking pleas and mentions.


A promise which can be enforced in court and usually given before the court.

Undue Influence

f a person agrees to something in circumstances which did not allow free judgement then the court can set it aside.


A criminal charge usually associated with fraud. Eg. to pass a false cheque is to "utter" it.

Violent Offender

The designation of an inmate as violent. This designation follows a careful assessment of behavioural traits, current sentence details and previous offences. An inmate may be designated as violent even though not currently sentenced for a violent offence.

Visiting Justice (VJ)

Magistrates appointed to each correctional centre by Chief Magistrates under the provisions of the Prisons Act. VJ's can order that: Alleged offences to dealt with at hearing or by a local Court depending on seriousness of charge; the inmates pay compensation (apart from other penalties such as loss of privileges, extension of sentence, etc).


An unconvicted inmate is entitled to a visit immediately after reception and then twice weekly. Appellants and convicted inmates may be visited once immediately after conviction and then as arranged at the individual correctional centre. Civil inmates (ie those held other than a criminal offence) may be visited daily as often as permitted by the governor of the correctional centre. Inmates confined to cells or in administrative segregation are not entitled to personal visits. There are two main types:

Normal (contact) visits

vary between contact over a low table to meetings in picnic settings in low security correctional centre grounds. The norm is two contact visits per week for one hour each, dependant on arrangements at individual correctional centres.

Box visits

restriction imposed by the Governor following the breaching of visit conditions, whereby no physical contact between inmate and visitor is permitted


An authority used in executing process in civil and criminal cases for the arrest of person, or for their appearance in Court as witnesses.


Anyone called before the court to give evidence. This may be to prove a person's guilt or otherwise.


An order issuing from a Court requiring the performance of a specified act, or giving authority and commission to have it done.

Work Release Program

A strictly controlled program for inmates who are in the last year of their sentence, who have achieve a C3 classification and satisfy a number of other criteria, are allowed to work in the community in the period leading up to their release from custody. They are required to pay for their board and lodgings in the correctional centre whilst on the program. Graduated accounts of weekend leave are included. Participating inmates may be placed at Windsor or Parklea (Young Offenders) Silverwater (males) or the Norma Parker Centre (females).

Youth Drug (*And Alcohol) Court

Early Court Diversion to Treatment of Young Offenders with Drug Dependencies (s33 Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act. The court was set up to address the needs of young offenders between 14 and 18 years of age who have alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems. The aim of the Court is to divert young offenders from further drug use and reoffending by providing specialist assistance in a number of areas.

Young Offenders' Program

A ten stage program directed at 18-21 yr old inmates. Intensive course of educational, behavioural, vocational, developmental and detoxification measures. The aim is to provide participants with skills, knowledge and support to enable more effective community living. The program includes the option of a sixteen week outdoor challenge module as well as a work release opportunity.

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Prison Slang

Below is a glossary of some of the prison slang encountered in NSW prisons

Blue- green

Them/us, i.e. custodial staff/inmates


Multi-purpose forms inmates use for making requests.

Bone Yard

The area in a prison where inmates are placed in segregation.

Box Visit

Inmate is separated from visitor by a screen, and no touching is possible.

Buy Up

Purchases made through the correctional centres system.


Classification of inmates to varying security levels.




A lookout for officers


An informer/amyone who dobs on another to the authorities.

Done a runner


Dry Cell

Bare cell where inmates are monitored eg. If at risk of self-harm or suicide.






A new inmate or first timer

Gate fever

Fear or nervousness prior to release.


Syringe and other equipment for intravenous drug use


Prisoners' uniform



Knocking up

Pressing the assistance button


Sentence length

Lock down

All inmates are kept in their cells due to staff shortages or incident.� No visits by families or external workers.

Lock In

Daily securing of inmates in wings for the night


Roll Call

Old Lag

An offender who has served a lot of jail time

One out

On your own in a cell.



Peda Thief

An inmate who steals from another inmate's cell

Pick, A

Street name for heroine or needle


Senior officers

Plastic Gangster

A "try hard"


New custodial officer.

Putting a charge in

A misdemeanour is reported in writing.

Rock Spider/spider/rocky

A child sex offender


A Correctional Officer


An inmate is placed in a single cell for safety.

Slashing Up

Self harm by cutting oneself


A Cell


Serious Offenders Review Council: makes decisions about parole, classifications and programs for people convicted of murder, serving life or lengthy sentences.

Spinning out

Losing control of oneself, usually from drugs.


A trusted employment position for inmates of Correctional Centres

The 'done'

The methadone program

Time out

To be alone


Being transferred from one prison to another


Getting out of prison

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There are over 10,000 people in jail in NSW on any given day.

Approximately 80% of prisoners connect their AOD dependence to their offending behaviour and imprisonment.

60 - 80% of this group were intoxicated at the time of committing their offence.