The government has no choice but to lock people up if a court finds that they have committed a crime deserving of imprisonment, so how does the government have choice over the growing prison population?
In fact, the reality is the opposite. The size of the prison population is almost entirely a result of how punitive the government decides to make the criminal justice system. The more punitive, the larger the prison population. Rather than the government having no choice, a large and growing prison population is almost entirely the result of the government’s policy choices. The Bail Amendment Act 2013 and ‘3 strikes’ legislation are good recent examples.