Corrective services agencies are responsible for administering those penalties handed down by the criminal courts that 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 people for whom corrective services have responsibility have received a sentence from a criminal court. Corrective service agencies may also be responsible for people prior to sentencing. Unsentenced persons may be held on remand in correctional facilities or be subject to supervised bail or similar community-based court orders.
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 Australian 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. 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 those under the supervision of community corrections (e.g. probation and parole).
As at 30 June 2005, corrective services operated 120 custodial facilities nationally comprising: 81 government-operated prisons and 7 privately-operated prisons; 5 government-operated community custodial facilities (including 2 transitional centres) and 1 privately-operated community custodial facility; 11 periodic detention centres; and 15 '24-hour' court-cell centres (under the responsibility of corrective services in New South Wales).