Corrective services agencies are responsible for administering the penalties handed down by the criminal courts which require some form of supervision or custody of the offender. This may include imprisonment on either a full-time or part-time basis, community service and other forms of supervised work, home detention or good behaviour bonds under supervision. Most persons for whom corrective services have responsibility have received a sentence from a criminal court, but some persons have been given orders pending judgement or sentencing (e.g. unsentenced prisoners).
All states and territories operate prisons and other types of corrective services. Separate provisions exist in each state and territory for dealing with juvenile offenders. The majority of convicted adult prisoners from the Australian Capital Territory serve their sentences in New South Wales prisons, but local provision is made for the custody of unsentenced prisoners and periodic detainees, and for community corrections (e.g. probation and parole). The Commonwealth Government does not operate any prisons or other corrective services, as federal offenders (persons convicted of offences under Commonwealth laws) are supervised by state or territory agencies for correctional purposes.
During 2000-01, 12 of the 96 prisons were privately operated facilities. These prisons operate in conjunction with state operated prisons and are monitored by the corrective services authorities in a similar manner to state operated prisons.
Corrective services comprise prisons, periodic detention and community-based corrections. Community-based corrections include restricted movement, reparation (fine option and community service) and supervision (parole, bail and sentenced probation).