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4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2012 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/04/2013  Reissue
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 This publication presents information about prisoners held in custody in Australian adult prisons on 30 June 2012. A range of information is presented on the demographic and legal characteristics of prisoners such as age, sex, country of birth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, legal status, most serious offence/charge and length of sentence being served.

2 The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has developed national standards for corrective services statistics to support the comparability of data between states and territories. While efforts have been made to attain maximum comparability between states and territories, some issues with jurisdictional comparability remain due to different legislative and administrative recording practices in the states and territories. Further detail on these differences is provided in paragraphs 85-99.


REFERENCE PERIOD

3 The National Prisoner Census is a census of all persons in the legal custody of adult corrective services in all states and territories as at midnight 30 June 2012.


SCOPE

4 The scope of the statistics in this publication includes all persons remanded or sentenced to adult custodial corrective services agencies in each state and territory in Australia.

5 Included in the National Prisoner Census are prisoners in the legal custody of corrective services but who, at the time of the census, were:

  • absent on an authorised temporary leave permit
  • absent from the correctional facility on a work release permit or program
  • located in secure wards in a hospital outside the correctional facility
  • periodic detainees.

6 Excluded from the collection are:
  • prisoners who were unlawfully absent from corrective services legal custody, e.g. escapees or prisoners who failed to return from an authorised temporary absence from a correctional facility
  • prisoners whose legal custody had been transferred to another agency, e.g. police or mental health institutions.

7 The count of periodic detainees covers the number of persons with an active periodic detainee warrant. However, periodic detainees who have breached orders may be excluded.


Types of facilities

8 The types of correctional facilities and programs where prisoners are held varies between the states and territories.

9 Included in the collection are:
  • gazetted adult prisons in all jurisdictions
  • periodic detention centres in the Australian Capital Territory
  • community custody centres in Queensland and work camps in Queensland and Western Australia
  • cells in court complexes administered by corrective services in New South Wales
  • transitional centres in New South Wales
  • lock-ups in Western Australia operated by the police but designated as a prison by the Chief Executive Officer of Corrective Services
  • gazetted police prisons in the Northern Territory which are administered and controlled by the Director of Corrective Services.

10 Excluded from the collection are persons held in facilities administered and controlled by other agencies:
  • police lock-ups, police prisons and cells in court complexes
  • immigration detention centres
  • home detention programs
  • military prisons
  • mental health facilities
  • juvenile facilities, including those under the authority of adult corrective services.


Age

11 In all states and territories except Queensland, persons remanded or sentenced to adult custody are aged 18 years and over. Persons under 18 years are treated as juveniles in most Australian courts and are only remanded or sentenced to custody in adult prisons in exceptional circumstances. In Queensland 'adult' refers to persons aged 17 years and over.


DATA SOURCE

12 Statistics in this publication are derived from information on each prisoner collected by the ABS from administrative records held by corrective services agencies within each state and territory.


JURISDICTION OF CUSTODY

13 Persons included in the National Prisoner Census were counted in the state or territory in which they were held in custody regardless of which state or territory imposed the sentence being served.


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER IDENTIFICATION

14 The ABS conducts an ongoing program of quality assurance to monitor and improve the quality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status data in corrective services agencies. While the ABS has published Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status data in Prisoners in Australia for a number of years, ongoing quality assurance is required to better understand the level of accuracy over time.

15 The quality of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status information collected and recorded in corrective services agencies is assessed against the ABS Standard Indigenous Question (SIQ). The SIQ is based upon self-identification by the individual who comes into contact with corrective services agencies. The SIQ requires individuals to be asked “Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?”. The answers to the SIQ can be ‘No’, ‘Yes, Aboriginal’, or ‘Yes, Torres Strait Islander’. If the offender is of Aboriginal and also of Torres Strait Islander origin, both responses should be identified. If an offender does not supply an answer to this question, or is not asked, the Indigenous status field should be recorded as 'not stated'.

16 For custodial corrections, current indications are that corrective services agencies in all states and territories, except Western Australia, ask prisoners about their Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status in line with the SIQ as described above. In Western Australia, in some instances Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status may be recorded from information previously collected.

17 Some people in custody have their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status recorded as unknown on the information systems of corrective services agencies, as their status has not been able to be obtained. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status was unknown for 0.5% of all prisoner records in 2012.


IMPRISONMENT RATES

18 Imprisonment rates enable comparison of prisoner populations across states and territories at a point in time, as well as over time. Prisoner rates are expressed per 100,000 adult population, in accordance with international and state and territory practices. The calculation of these rates was reviewed in 2012 and as a result some minor corrections to previous rates have been made.

19 Rates for the adult prisoner population are calculated using the estimated resident population (ERP) for each of the states and territories, and total Australia (see Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0)). All estimates and projections for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory. All estimates and projections for Australia exclude the external territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

20 The formula for calculating the imprisonment rate is as follows:

Equation: Rebecca Equation 1

21 The formula for calculating the ratio of two imprisonment rates is as follows:

Equation: Rebecca Equation 2

22 As the population changes over time the denominator used for the calculation of rates varies, depending on the reference period. The ERP series are revised every five years to incorporate additional information available from the latest Census of Population and Housing. The rates per 100,000 adult persons (excluding Indigenous rates) presented in this issue are based on the following ERPs:
  • Rates for 2012 are preliminary ERP data based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing
  • Rates for 2008 to 2011 are preliminary ERP data based on the 2006 Census of Population and Housing.
  • Rates for 2007 are based on the revised ERP data derived from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing;
  • Rates for 2002 to 2006 use final ERP data based on the 2006 Census of Population and Housing;
  • Rates for 1999 to 2001 use final ERP data based on the 2001 Census of Population and Housing;

23 For population estimates and information on the methodology used to produce the ERP, see Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0).


National imprisonment rates

24 The age at which a person is remanded or sentenced to adult custody within the states and territories can vary. See paragraph 11 for more information. In order to standardise the national imprisonment rate, the same denominator is applied for all states and territories. Prior to 2009 the denominator used to derive the national imprisonment rate is based on the national ERP for persons aged 18 years and over for all states and territories except Queensland. For Queensland this is based on persons aged 17 years and over. From 2009 the denominator used to derive this data item is based on the national ERP for persons aged 17 years and over. For individual state and territory imprisonment rates the denominator applied is based on the age at which a person is remanded/sentenced in that state. This may result in slightly different national imprisonment rates across Tables 2.3, 3.3 and 3.4.


State and territory imprisonment rates

25 From 2006 the ERP used in the calculation of state and territory imprisonment rates is that of persons aged 18 years and over, except for Queensland. For Queensland, the ERP used is that of persons aged 17 years and over. In 2004 and 2005 imprisonment rates were calculated using the ERP for all persons aged 18 years and over for all states and territories except Victoria and Queensland, where persons aged 17 years and over were included in the ERP for those states. Prior to 2004 imprisonment rates for all states and territories were calculated using the ERP for all persons aged 17 years and over. For more information refer to paragraphs 11 and 91.

26 Prior to 2009, imprisonment rate data for the Australian Capital Territory are calculated on the basis of the total number of Australian Capital Territory prisoners held in New South Wales prisons, as well as in the Australian Capital Territory. New South Wales imprisonment rates data are only based on the count of New South Wales prisoners held in New South Wales prisons. For more information about Australian Capital Territory prisoners held in New South Wales prisons refer to paragraph 98.


Country of birth imprisonment rates

27 Imprisonment rates by birthplace are calculated using data for June 2011 ERP by Country of Birth from Migration, Australia 2010-11 (cat. no. 3412.0).


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates

28 Rates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous adult population were revised in the 2011 issue due to the rebasing of estimates and projections for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in September 2010. Rebased estimates (for the period 1986-2006) and projections (2007-2021) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are based on data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and use assumptions about future fertility, paternity, life expectancy at birth and migration.

29 The data supersede previously published ABS estimates and projections and, as a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates previously published in Prisoners in Australia for the years 2001-2008 were revised accordingly in 2011.

30 The projections used in this issue are based on Series B, which is one of two main projection series (Series A and B) that have been published for the years 2007 to 2021. Both of these series assume an annual decline of 0.5% in fertility rates; an annual increase of 1% in paternity rates; constant interstate migration at levels observed in the 2006 Census; and zero net overseas migration with no arrivals and no departures. Two different assumptions were made about future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy at birth for Australia:
  • in Series A, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy at birth will remain constant at 67.3 years for males and 73.0 years for females for the duration of the projection period; and
  • in Series B, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy at birth will increase by 0.3 years per year for both males and females, reaching 72.1 years for males and 77.8 years for females by 2021. This equates to an increase in life expectancy at birth of 5 years over the 15 year projection period for both males and females.

31 The impact of re-basing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate data using Series B projections is small at the national level, with some differences more apparent in the state and territory data. The decision to use Series B as the denominator in the calculation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates for Prisoners in Australia followed consultation with the National Corrective Services Statistics Advisory Group and other stakeholders.

32 For further information see Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1991 to 2021 (cat. no. 3238.0).


Age standardisation of imprisonment rates

33 Age standardisation is a statistical method that adjusts crude rates to account for age differences between study populations.

34 There are differences in the age distributions between Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations with the former having a much younger population. In 2001, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years and over was 54.6%, compared with 75.8% of non-Indigenous people (and 75.3% of the total Australian population). The diagram below illustrates the differences in age distributions.

35 ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION, AUSTRALIA - 30 JUNE 2001

Diagram: Estimated resident population, Australia - 30 June 2001

36 Due to these differing age profiles, using crude rates to examine differences between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations may lead to erroneous conclusions being drawn about variables that are correlated with age.

37 By making comparisons across age groups, we know that imprisonment rates decrease in older age groups, i.e. that the imprisonment rate is correlated with age. If we compare overall imprisonment rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous persons, it is likely that the imprisonment rate in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population will be higher because of the larger proportion of young people in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

38 Age standardised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous imprisonment rates have been presented in Tables 3.3 and 4.2 of this publication. Ratios of the rates are also included in these tables. The standard population against which each population is age standardised is the total Australian Estimated Resident Population at 30 June 2001. The standard population is revised every ten years; the next revision will be based on final data from the 2011 Census.


CLASSIFICATIONS

Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC), 2011

39 The Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC) provides a uniform national framework for classifying offences across Australia for statistical purposes. The classification is a hierarchical structure allowing for varying degrees of detail to be published depending on the level of detail in the source information. The first release of this classification was the Australian Standard Offence Classification 1997(cat. no. 1234.0) (ASOC97). In 2008 the ABS released a second edition of the Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC08), which reflected changes to criminal legislation since the first edition. In 2011, the offence classification was updated from the Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC) to the Australian New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC), however changes were not made to the content of the classification. For further information about the ANZSOC refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification, 2011 (cat. no. 1234.0).

40 The offence information presented in this issue is based on the 2011 ANZSOC. For the 2009 Prisoner Census, all jurisdictions implemented ASOC08 for the provision of offence data with the exception of Queensland and Western Australia which were still supplying offence data on ASOC97. This process had some level of impact to the time series prior to 2009 and to comparability across jurisdictions. The classification changes affected the most serious offence for sentenced prisoners and the most serious charge for unsentenced prisoners. Issues of the publication prior to 2009 were based on ASOC97. Prior to 2001, offence data were based on the Australian National Classification of Offences (ANCO) 1985 (cat. no. 1234.0).

41 In 2009, four jurisdictions (New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory) supplied offence data coded to both ASOC97 and ASOC08, which enabled an assessment of the impact of the changes to the classification on the prisoner census data. As part of the implementation, jurisdictions also rectified a number of codes that had been miscoded in previous years.

42 The analysis conducted found that the overall impact to the offence data, resulting from the new classification, was minimal. The most serious offence/charge for some prisoners moved between offence categories as a result of the classification change and the rectification of miscoding of some offences, however the total number of prisoners was not impacted. Four divisions (05, 11, 13 and 16) recorded changes of 15% or greater, however this was largely due to small numbers. All other divisions recorded changes below 15%. For more information refer to the Technical Note in Prisoners in Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 4517.0).

43 For the 2010 Prisoner Census, both Queensland and Western Australia implemented ASOC08, however dual coded extracts could not be supplied to measure the impacts to offence data. Based on the findings of the 2009 analysis, it is expected that the impact on Queensland and Western Australia's offence data resulting from the implementation of ASOC08 would be similar to those of other jurisdictions.

44 Some corrective services agencies have not fully implemented any version of ASOC/ANZSOC. Data from these jurisdictions are coded to ANCO and data is then mapped by jurisdictions to the relevant ANZSOC category. Where there is no direct concordance between the two classifications, the ANCO codes have been mapped as closely as possible to the relevant ANZSOC categories.


National Offence Index

45 The National Offence Index (NOI) is a tool which provides an ordinal ranking of all ANZSOC groups in ANZSOC according to the perceived seriousness of each offence. The purpose of the NOI is to enable the representation of a prisoner by a single offence/charge in instances where multiple offences/charges occur for the same prisoner. The original NOI was introduced into the Prisoners collection in 2006, and was revised in 2009 to accommodate the changes made in ASOC08. For further information about the NOI refer to National Offence Index, 2009 (cat. no. 1234.0.55.001).

46 In the Prisoners collection the NOI is used to determine the most serious charge for unsentenced prisoners for all states and territories, except Western Australia. For sentenced prisoners, the concept of most serious offence is determined by the longest sentence in the current episode for a single count of an offence for all states and territories, except Tasmania due to the use of global sentencing in that state. For more information about global sentencing in Tasmania, see paragraph 80. Detailed information about the most serious charge and most serious offence can be found in paragraphs 79-82.


Standard Australian Classification of Countries

47 Country of birth information is classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), Second Edition (cat. no. 1269.0). Most jurisdictions use the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), Second Edition (cat. no. 1269.0), however South Australia, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have updated their coding to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) 2011 (cat. no. 1269.0). This is Revision 1 of the second edition used in 2008. The review of the classification was minor. There was no impact on comparability between the jurisdictions that have updated to the most recent edition and those that are using the second edition released in 2008.


COUNTING METHODOLOGY

Episode

48 An episode is defined as the period from an offender's latest date of reception into the custody of a corrective services agency for a particular offence(s)/charge(s) until the person is released from custody. When a prisoner breaches parole conditions and is returned to custody, a new episode is deemed to have commenced and a new reception date is provided. Differences in the application of this rule occur in Western Australia. Further detail on these differences is provided in paragraph 68.

49 In consultation with the National Corrective Services Statistics Advisory Group, the definition of an episode changed from the 2003 Prisoner Census to maximise data comparability across states and territories. There was no change to the data provided by New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory as these jurisdictions had always provided data based on the definition of an episode as outlined in paragraph 48. These jurisdictions accounted for 65% of the prisoner population in 2002. Prior to 2003, Queensland, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory treated persons who breached parole and returned to custody as continuing a prior episode. These jurisdictions now provide data based on the standard definition of episode. In Western Australia, as noted in the previous paragraph, there remain differences in the application of the national counting rule. As the revised definition of episode only impacts on prisoners who have breached parole, the impact of this change in definition on time series data is low at the national level.


Legal status

50 The legal status of an offender is determined by the warrant(s) or court order(s) which provide the legal basis for the detention in custody of the offender. Some offenders may have more than one type of warrant issued against them; therefore it is possible for an offender to have dual status (e.g. under sentence for some offences and awaiting appeal results for others, or under sentence and awaiting deportation). The counting rules for determining the legal status of an offender are as follows:
  • If the prisoner has been sentenced for any offence then this takes precedence over any other offence(s)/charge(s) for which the prisoner is unsentenced.
  • If the sentenced prisoner has appealed against all of his/her sentences then that prisoner is counted as under sentence.


Aggregate sentence

51 The aggregate sentence is the longest period that the convicted prisoner may be detained for the current sentenced offences in the current episode. Charges pending which are likely to extend the current episode are ignored. Where a new episode is counted when a person returns to prison from a breach of parole, the unexpired sentence of the prior episode is usually incorporated into the aggregate sentence for the new episode.


Expected time to serve

52 The expected time to serve is the period of imprisonment which a convicted prisoner is expected to serve and in most cases refers to the time between the date of reception for this episode (see paragraphs 48-49) and the earliest date of release for sentenced prisoners.

53 Date of reception is defined as the date the prisoner was received into prison in a state or territory for the current episode. Counting rules for persons returning to custody from an escape attempt or parole are as follows:
  • If an offender escapes from custody and is recaptured and returned to custody, the date of reception is the date the person originally entered into custody prior to the escape.
  • If parole is revoked resulting in an offender returning to custody, the date of reception is the date the person was returned to custody. That is, a new episode is deemed to have commenced.

54 There are some state and territory variations:
  • In Tasmania, if an offender escapes from custody and is recaptured and returned to custody, the date of reception is the date the person was returned to custody. That is, a new episode is deemed to have commenced
  • In Western Australia, if an offender is returned to prison as a result of a parole breach the date of reception is the original reception date (see paragraph 68).

55 The minimum term is the period that must be served before the prisoner is eligible for release from custody to parole, and the difference between the maximum and minimum term is the period that will be served on parole if the prisoner is released at his or her earliest eligibility date. While parole is generally granted at the earliest eligibility date, prisoners may be denied parole for some or all of the period up to the expiry of their maximum term. For both fixed and maximum-minimum sentences, the period actually served in custody may be less than the stated time to serve where administrative mechanisms such as sentence remissions are applied.

56 The time a prisoner is expected to serve in custody depends upon the sentence(s) originally handed down, the system of remissions and the forms of parole available in the various states and territories and whether any time was spent in custody prior to reception (for example, time on remand or in police custody). The rules governing date of release are complex and differ between the states and territories. The calculation of the earliest date of release in each state and territory is described in paragraphs 58-74.

57 Expected time to serve is not calculated for prisoners sentenced to an indefinite term or to life where no minimum term has been fixed.

New South Wales

58 Under current legislation, a court setting a term of imprisonment is required to first set a 'Non-Parole' period and then a 'Sentence' period. Alternatively a court may decline to set a 'Non-Parole' period. These sentences are referred to as 'Sentence/Non-Parole' and 'Sentence/Parole declined' sentence types respectively.

59 Those prisoners with a sentence of three years or less, being a sentence that has a non-parole period, are automatically released from custody at the expiry of the non-parole term. Those with a non-parole term greater than three years may be released by the NSW Parole Board at any time after serving the non-parole term.

Victoria

60 In Victoria, the calculation of the expected time to serve is based on either the non-parole period set by court or the aggregate sentence and the following:
  • If a court sentences an offender to be imprisoned in respect of an offence for the term of his or her natural life or a term of two years or more the court must, as part of the sentence, fix a period during which the offender is not eligible to be released on parole, unless it considers that the nature of the offence or the past history of the offender make the fixing of such a period inappropriate.
  • If a sentence of less than two years but not less than one year is imposed, the court may set a non-parole period.
  • The non-parole period must be at least six months less than the term of imprisonment and must be in respect of the aggregate sentence that the offender is liable to serve under all the sentences imposed.
  • Time spent in detention prior to the commencement of the sentence counts toward the time to be served under sentence if the sentencing judge so orders.
  • Pursuant to section 74 of the Corrections Act 1986, the Adult Parole Board of Victoria may release an offender upon the expiration of the non-parole period but release on that date is at the discretion of the Board.

Queensland

61 In Queensland, with the exception of sentences of indefinite length such as Life, earliest release date calculations are based on the date an offender was eligible for parole.

62 Release dates are calculated as follows:
  • Unless otherwise specified by the court, the parole eligibility date is at 80% of the aggregate sentence length for serious violent offenders and half the aggregate sentence length for others.
  • The Corrective Services Act 2006 (Qld) commenced in August 2006. One key provision in the new legislation relates to the management of offenders subject to Court-ordered Parole. This new order provides courts with the power to specify a parole release date for persons who are sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 3 years or less.
  • The earliest discharge date indicates when an offender might be discharged if remissions on each term of imprisonment are granted. For those prisoners ineligible for remission, this date would be the same as the full-time discharge date.
  • The revised Corrective Services Act 2000 (Qld) commenced in July 2001. Offenders convicted of an offence that was committed on or after 1 July 2001 and sentenced to a term of imprisonment are not eligible to have that term remitted. Offenders convicted of an offence that was committed prior to the commencement of this Act and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of two months or more are eligible to be considered for a remission of up to one-third of that term of imprisonment. This provision was extinguished by the Corrective Services Act 2006 (Qld).
  • Prisoners with life sentences are eligible to apply for parole:
      • if the prisoner is serving a life sentence under the Criminal Code section 305(2)15 - once the prisoner has served 20 years or longer
      • if the prisoner is serving a life sentence under another code - once the prisoner has served 15 years.

South Australia

63 In South Australia, the Truth in Sentencing legislation implemented in August 1994 determines the way in which release dates are calculated. This legislation:
  • requires prisoners with an aggregate sentence of five years or more to formally apply to the Parole Board for release on parole;
  • enables the Parole Board to release prisoners with an aggregate sentence of five years or more at its discretion;
  • provides directions for the judiciary to take the abolition of remissions into account when ordering sentences. Prisoners with a non-parole period (NPP) and an aggregate sentence of less than five years are paroled automatically. Release dates for prisoners are calculated as follows:
      • Where a prisoner has not had a NPP, the earliest date of release is the aggregate sentence end date.
      • Where a prisoner has a NPP and an aggregate sentence of less than five years, the earliest date of release is the end date of the NPP.
      • Where a prisoner has a NPP, and an aggregate sentence of five years or more, the earliest date of release is the earliest date the prisoner can be released by the Parole Board. If this date has expired and no further release date has been set by the Parole Board, the earliest date of release becomes the aggregate sentence end date, which in the case of Life or Other indeterminate sentences would be unknown.

Western Australia

64 In Western Australia, expected time to serve is determined differently depending on whether sentences are less than 12 months or sentences are 12 months or more.

Sentences less than 12 months

65 For sentences less than 12 months, expected time to serve is determined as follows:
  • Before August 2003: the expected time to serve is calculated between the sentence start date and the two-thirds time date or effective date of release (EDR).
  • On or after August 2003: the calculation of the expected time to serve is based on half of the maximum sentence as the prisoner may be released on Short Term Parole at the Earliest Eligibility Date (EED) after serving 50% of the sentence.

Sentences 12 months or more

66 For sentences 12 months or more expected time to serve is determined as follows:
  • Sentence Imposed before August 2003:
  • Where no parole term is specified, the minimum sentence is calculated between the sentence start date and the two-thirds time date or EDR. If that Minimum Sentence is more than 12 months, the prisoner will be eligible for release on a Re-Entry Release Order (release is subject to approval by the Prisoners Review), and the expected time to serve is calculated up till the Re-Entry Release Eligibility Date (RRED). If the Minimum Sentence is 12 months or less, the expected time to serve is calculated between the sentence start date and the two-thirds time date or EDR.
  • Where a parole term has been specified, the minimum sentence is calculated between the sentence start date and the EED. If that Minimum Sentence is more than 12 months, the prisoner will be eligible for release on a Re-Entry Release Order (release is subject to approval by the Prisoners Review Board), and the expected time to serve is calculated up till the RRED. If that Minimum Sentence is 12 months or less, the expected time to serve is calculated between the sentence start date and the EED.
  • Sentence Imposed on or after August 2003:
      • Where no parole term is specified:
          • For sentences equalling 12 months, the prisoner must serve the full term and the expected time to serve is calculated up until the sentence expiry date (maximum date).
          • For sentences greater than 12 months the prisoner will be eligible for release on a Re-Entry Release Order (release is subject to approval by the Prisoners Review), and the expected time to serve is calculated up until the RRED.
      • Where a parole term has been specified:
          • For prisoners sentenced before January 2007, the minimum sentence is calculated between the sentence start date and the EED.
          • If that Minimum Sentence is more than 12 months, the prisoner will be eligible for release on a Re-Entry Release Order (release is subject to approval by the Prisoners Review Board), and the expected time to serve is calculated up until the RRED.
          • If that Minimum Sentence is 12 months or less, the expected time to serve is calculated between the sentence start date and the EED.
          • Prisoners sentenced to a parole term on or after January 2007 are not eligible for release on a Re-Entry Release Order and the expected time to serve is calculated between the sentence start date and the EED.

67 If EED or RRED have passed, any release date set by the Prisoners Review Board is taken into account. If the Prisoners Review Board has not set a release date but has set a review date, that review date is used. If there are no such dates, the EDR (for sentences imposed before August 2003) or sentence expiry date (for sentences imposed on/after August 2003) is used.

68 Where prisoners were returned to prison partly or wholly as a result of breach or suspension of early release orders, reimprisoned after finalisation of appeal after being released on bail or following unlawful release, a new episode is not deemed to have commenced and the date of reception is based on the date the person originally entered into custody, prior to being released on the early release order. Therefore, time spent in prison for the original sentence has continued to be included in the calculation of expected time to serve and aggregate sentence length data and may result in a higher mean and median duration for these data items in comparison with other states and territories (see paragraph 76). In light of legislative changes effective from August 2003, it is essential for Western Australia to have a continuous series of comparable information to enable the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the legislation, therefore it does not comply with the current ABS counting rule.

Tasmania

69 In Tasmania the calculation of expected time to serve is based on the totality of all sentences less remissions which may be granted on eligible sentences. A remission of the whole or any part of a sentence is not to: exceed 3 months (for sentences imposed after 1/1/1994); exceed one-third of the total period of imprisonment; or reduce the sentence below three months.

70 A prisoner may be eligible for remission of more than one sentence during an episode of imprisonment.

71 From October 2002, as a result of legislative change, if a court fails to make an order in relation to parole the prisoner will be ineligible for parole on that sentence.

Northern Territory

72 In the Northern Territory, expected time to serve is calculated as follows:
  • Prisoners whose sentences commenced prior to July 1996 will be discharged with one-third remissions or at the expiry of the non-parole period, as approved by the Northern Territory Parole Board. If the parole date has elapsed, the date eligible for remission is used (if applicable) or else the full-term expiry date is used.
  • Prisoners sentenced after July 1996 have an expected time to serve based on their non-parole period (if this date has elapsed the EDR becomes the full-term expiry date), a fixed release date or an earliest release date based on a suspension of sentence after a set period of time.

73 Following the commencement of the Sentencing (Crime of Murder) and Parole Reform Act 2003 (NT) in February 2004, prisoners receiving or currently serving a mandatory life sentence for murder can now be considered for release on parole after serving 20 or 25 years. Prior to sentencing legislation amendments in 2004, prisoners sentenced for murder were given a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of receiving an earliest date of release, e.g. parole.

Australian Capital Territory

74 Prisoners sentenced in the Australian Capital Territory and who were held in New South Wales prisons were subject to New South Wales calculations for date of release. As at 30 June 2009, Australian Capital Territory prisoners were no longer held in New South Wales prisons.


Impact of indeterminate sentences

75 While all states and territories have access to indeterminate sentences as a sentencing option, the degree to which that sentencing option is utilised varies considerably across states and territories, particularly for homicide. This can impact on mean and median aggregate sentence length and expected time to serve data as prisoners with an indeterminate sentence are excluded from these calculations. For 2012, more than three-fifths of prisoners with a most serious offence of homicide had an indeterminate sentence in South Australia (75%), Western Australia (69%) and Queensland (64%). For the Australian Capital Territory, the proportion (44%) was closer to the national average of 33%. However, the proportions in the remaining states of New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Northern Territory were each less than 10%.


Mean/median sentence length and time on remand

76 Calculations of mean and median sentence lengths and time on remand are affected by the reference period used. For the Prisoner Census, information relates to the characteristics of prisoners at a point in time (the night of 30 June), rather than the total prisoner population during the year. During a year, a large proportion of prisoners who go through the prison system serve short sentences (i.e. less than a year) or are on remand for shorter periods of time, while at any point in time the majority tend to be prisoners serving longer sentences or who have been on remand for long periods of time. The impact of this is that when the total population of prisoners during a year is considered, the large number of short sentences and short periods of time on remand will result in lower mean and median sentence length and time on remand values compared with means and medians calculated from point in time data.

77 Mean and median aggregate sentence length exclude indeterminate, life with a minimum and periodic detention sentences.

78 Between 1995 and 2001, prisoners who had a 'Life with minimum' sentence were not included as part of the calculation of the mean and median sentence lengths for prisoners' expected time to serve in prison. From 2002 they have been included. Their inclusion has slightly increased the mean for the expected time to serve, but has had a negligible impact on the median value for expected time to serve.


MOST SERIOUS OFFENCE/CHARGE

Sentenced prisoners

79 For sentenced prisoners in all states and territories except Tasmania, the Most Serious Offence (MSO) is the offence for which the prisoner has received the longest sentence in the current episode for a single count of the offence, regardless of the possible result of any appeals, and regardless of whether the sentence for that offence has actually expired at census date. Where sentences are equal, or the longest sentence cannot be determined, the MSO is the offence with the lowest (numerical) ANZSOC code. For example, if a prisoner has two offences coded at the ANZSOC Group level: 0711 Unlawful entry with intent, and 0412 Dangerous or negligent driving, the MSO would be allocated as 0412 Dangerous or negligent driving, as this is the lowest ANZSOC code.

80 In Tasmania, magistrates and judges have the capacity to provide global sentencing, i.e. a combined sentence for all offences. An individual offence will not have an identified period of imprisonment, so it is not possible to identify the offence with the longest period of imprisonment. The MSO is therefore determined by applying the NOI.

81 From 2004, the MSO for prisoners who have breached parole and returned to prison is determined only from the breach offence and any new offence(s) committed while on parole (the original MSO is excluded from the determination). This differs in Western Australia where offences from previous episodes are considered in the selection of MSO, due to the episode definition applied by Western Australia (see paragraph 68).


Unsentenced prisoners

82 Prior to 2006, all states and territories applied the Most Serious Charge (MSC) for unsentenced prisoners by determining the charge which carries the longest statutory maximum penalty. From 2006, the NOI has been used by Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. From 2007, the Northern Territory also applied the NOI, and in 2008, New South Wales introduced it. Western Australia continues to apply the charge which carries the longest statutory maximum penalty; where penalties are equal, the MSC is the charge with the lowest ANCO code. There are some state and territory variations:
  • In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, if a prisoner is convicted but as yet unsentenced for at least one charge, the MSC is selected from those offences for which convictions have been recorded.
  • In Western Australia the MSC is always determined by calculating the lowest ANCO Code.


COURT OF SENTENCE/REMAND

83 The court of sentence/remand data (available in Supplementary Data Cubes 4, 10 and 11) refer to whether the offender was sentenced or remanded to custody by the Supreme Court, the District or County Court or the Lower Courts such as the Magistrates' or Children's Courts. The rules adopted for coding the level of court are:
  • Where an episode comprises orders/sentences of various levels of court, the level of court relating to the MSO is recorded.
  • An appeal court is recorded when it has altered the length of sentence of the MSO/charge.
  • For prisoners not under sentence, the level of court which has issued the most recent remand in custody warrant is recorded.
  • Prisoners held under a Department of Immigration order or under the authority of the Parole Board are recorded as 'other'.


DATA COMPARABILITY AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

84 National corrections statistics are compiled in order to maximise comparability across states and territories. Although differences have been overcome through the introduction of national standards, some legislative, interpretive and processing differences remain.


New South Wales

85 In New South Wales, the Kariong juvenile facility operates under the authority of Adult Corrective Services. These prisoners are excluded from this collection.

86 Periodic detention is a form of custody or order where a sentenced prisoner is required to be held in custody on a part-time basis. The Periodic Detention program operates in two stages. Stage 1 is the initial residential stage, whereby detainees must reside in a periodic detention centre for two days per week. In Stage 2 detainees undertake two days of supervised work but are not required to reside in a periodic detention centre at night. New South Wales abolished periodic detention on 1 October 2010. Following that abolition, periodic detainees who were managed under Stage 1 were progressively moved into Stage 2. At the same time residential periodic dentention centres were progressively closed and as at 30 June 2012 all centres used for residential purposes (Stage 1) had closed. As at 30 June 2012, however, a small number of offenders were still managed on Stage 2 of the periodic detention program.

87 On the same day Periodic Detention ceased in New South Wales (1 October 2010), a new community sentencing option called an Intensive Correction Order (ICO) became available. This change is contained in the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (section 7, Part 5). An ICO is an order of imprisonment for not more than 2 years made by a court, which directs that the sentence is to be served by way of intensive correction in the community. An ICO is served in the community under the strict supervision of Corrective Services New South Wales rather than in full-time custody in a correctional centre.

88 In November 2010, NSW opened the South-Coast Correctional Centre. The facility is situated near Nowra, NSW. The focus of this facility is to accommodate maximum/minimum security male and female prisoners. It received its first prisoners in December 2010.

89 Amendments to the Bail Amendment (Repeat Offenders) Act 2002 restrict the availability of bail for three classes of defendant:
  • those accused of having committed another offence while on bail or parole, or serving a sentence for another offence;
  • those who have a previous conviction for absconding on bail; and
  • those who are charged with an indictable offence who already stand convicted of an earlier indictable offence.

90 In 2012, New South Wales introduced improved coding procedures for sentenced and unsentenced prisoners whose most serious offence/charge fell within ANZSOC Division 16 - Miscellaneous Offences, specifically those related to import / export regulations. As a result of these changes, caution should be exercised when comparing 2012 data for miscellaneous offences for New South Wales with previous years.


Victoria

91 In July 2005, the Children and Young Persons (Age Jurisdiction) Act 2004 came into force in Victoria. This Act changed the definition of a child from a person under 17 years of age to a person under 18 years of age. As a consequence the definition of an adult also changed for corrective services data to a person aged 18 years and over. Data prior to 2006 includes persons aged 17 years.

92 For 2002 and previous years, when a prisoner was held on remand and then sentenced to a term of imprisonment as part of the one episode, the time on remand was considered a separate episode of imprisonment for the purposes of determining whether a prisoner had known prior adult imprisonment. This practice was inconsistent with the national counting rule for the Prisoner Census and resulted in an inflated number (and proportion) of Victoria's prisoner population with known prior adult imprisonment under sentence. From 2003 the national counting rule was adopted for recording known prior adult imprisonment in Victoria.


Queensland

93 The Corrective Services Act 2006 (Qld) commenced in August 2006. One key provision in the new legislation relates to the management of offenders subject to Court-ordered Parole. This new order ensures that offenders serve all of their sentence under supervision, either in a correctional centre or under community supervision. This new order provides courts with the power to specify a parole release date for persons who are sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 3 years or less. Court-ordered Parole is not available to sex offenders or serious violent offenders.

94 In September 2005, Queensland implemented a new offender management system - the Integrated Offender Management System (IOMS). As a consequence prior imprisonment data were understated. The ABS imputed prior imprisonment data for 2006 and 2007 as an interim measure. During 2008 changes were implemented to the IOMS system and business processes to improve the quality of the prior imprisonment data. Comparisons to data prior to 2008 should be used with caution as the data may no longer be comparable.

95 From 2003, the Prisoner Census includes those prisoners who are held in community custody centres and work camps in Queensland.


Western Australia

96 The large increase in prisoners from 2008 to 2010 was due to fewer offenders being granted parole by the Prisoners Review Board and the impact of the Truth in Sentencing legislation. The Truth in Sentencing legislation refers to the Sentencing Legislation Amendment and Repeal Act 2003 (Schedule 1 - Transitional Provisions, Section 2) which included an automatic reduction of fixed sentences by one-third to offset other changes that were likely to increase the length of sentences. This provision was removed in 2008.


Tasmania

97 From 2003, the most serious offence/charge data for Tasmania has been determined by the application of the NOI as the longest sentence can no longer be attributed to a single offence (see paragraph 80).


Australian Capital Territory

98 Prior to 2009, persons sentenced to full-time custody by the Australian Capital Territory were usually held in New South Wales prisons. A new prison facility to house Australian Capital Territory persons sentenced to full-time custody, the Alexander Maconochie Centre, began taking prisoners on 30 March 2009. As at 30 June 2009, all Australian Capital Territory prisoners held in New South Wales prisons had been relocated to the new Alexander Maconochie Centre.

99 From 2003 the count of periodic detainees covers the number of persons with an active periodic detainee warrant excluding those with an outstanding PDC warrant. Detainees with an outstanding PDC warrant are those who breached a Periodic Detention Order and have been issued a warrant for a further court hearing, but failed to attend. In 2002, all periodic detainees with a current warrant were included in the census count (i.e. including those who were in breach of an order). Consequently, the periodic detainee population increased from 2002 to 2003.


CONFIDENTIALITY

100 Table cells containing small values have been randomly adjusted to avoid releasing confidential information. Due to this randomisation process, totals may vary slightly across tables.


ADDITIONAL DATA

101 A set of supplementary tables (data cubes) containing additional state and territory information is available for download from the ABS website. Refer to Appendix 2 for a list of available data cubes. Special tabulations may be produced on request to meet individual user requirements. For further information, contact the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics by email <crime.justice@abs.gov.au>


RELATED PUBLICATIONS

ABS publications

102 Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:
103 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS web site <http://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also provides a release calendar on the web site detailing products to be released in the next six months. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics in the ABS releases Crime and Justice News (cat. no. 4500.0), an annual newsletter that is published on the ABS website. The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics can be contacted by email <crime.justice@abs.gov.au>.


Non-ABS publications

104 Non-ABS sources which may be of interest include:

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