4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2014 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2014   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES

INTRODUCTION
DATA SOURCE
SCOPE
JURISDICTION OF CUSTODY
COUNTING RULES
IMPRISONMENT RATES
INDIGENOUS STATUS
CLASSIFICATIONS
MOST SERIOUS OFFENCE/CHARGE
COURT OF SENTENCE/REMAND
DATA COMPARABILITY AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
CONFIDENTIALITY
ADDITIONAL DATA
REVISIONS
RELATED PUBLICATIONS
FEDERAL OFFENDERS


INTRODUCTION

1 This publication presents information from the National Prisoner Census on prisoners held in custody in Australian adult prisons on 30 June 2014. A range of information is presented on the demographic and legal characteristics of prisoners such as age, sex, country of birth, Indigenous status, legal status, prior imprisonment, 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 7–12, 16, 25–40, 52–53, 67, 70–73, 76, 78–80 and 82–97.


DATA SOURCE

3 The statistics in this publication are derived from information held in administrative systems which are maintained by corrective services agencies within each state and territory.


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
  • persons serving post-sentence detention orders.

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 Periodic detainees in New South Wales are all persons with an active periodic detainee warrant; including those in breach of their orders.

8 Periodic detainees in the Australian Capital Territory are all persons with an active periodic detainee warrant on Census night. Those in breach of their orders will not be present and will not be counted.

Types of facilities

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

10 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, Western Australia and the Northern Territory
  • 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.

11 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

12 In all states and territories with the exceptions of Queensland and (for selected years) Victoria, 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 for all years and for Victoria for the years up to and including 2005, 'adult' refers to persons aged 17 years and over.


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.



COUNTING RULES

Reference period

14 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 2014.

Episode

15 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.

16 For the years prior to 2013, Western Australia treated persons who breached parole and returned to custody as continuing a prior episode. From 2013, Western Australia data are based on the standard definition of an episode as outlined in paragraph 15.

Legal status

17 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

18 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

19 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 15–16) and the earliest date of release for sentenced prisoners.

20 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, except in Tasmania
  • 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.

21 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.

22 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.

23 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 25–40.

24 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

25 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.

26 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 State Parole Authority at any time after serving the non-parole term.

Victoria

27 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

28 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.

29 Release dates are calculated as follows:
  • Unless otherwise specified by the court, the parole eligibility date is at the lesser of 80% of the aggregate sentence length or 15 years 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 30 years or longer
    • if the prisoner is serving a life sentence under the Criminal Code section 305(4) – once the prisoner has served 25 years or longer
    • if the prisoner is serving a life sentence for an offence of murder and the above criteria do not apply – once the prisoner has served 20 years
    • if the prisoner is serving a life sentence under another code – once the prisoner has served 15 years
    • if the prisoner is serving a life sentence for repeat serious child sex offences under the Penalties and Sentence Act 1992 section 161E – once the prisoner has served 20 years.

South Australia

30 In South Australia, the Truth in Sentencing Act 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

31 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

32 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

33 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

34 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.

Tasmania

35 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.

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

37 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

38 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.

39 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

40 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

41 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 example, at 30 June 2014 the proportion of sentenced prisoners with a most serious offence of homicide that had an indeterminate sentence for aggregate sentence ranged from 10% in Victoria to 80% in South Australia.
    Sentenced prisoners with a most serious offence of homicide and related offences, by selected sentence types and state/territory, 30 June 2014
    Sentence type
    NSW
    Vic.
    Qld
    SA
    WA
    Tas.
    NT
    ACT
    Aust.
    Aggregate sentence
    Determinate(a)
    571
    420
    185
    48
    86
    44
    45
    11
    1,410
    Indeterminate(b)
    94
    46
    305
    187
    228
    12
    47
    5
    924
    Total sentenced
    665
    466
    490
    235
    314
    56
    92
    16
    2,334
    % indeterminate
    14.1
    9.9
    62.2
    79.6
    72.6
    21.4
    51.1
    31.3
    39.6
    Expected time to serve
    Determinate(c)
    595
    456
    185
    231
    86
    45
    84
    11
    1,693
    Indeterminate(d)
    70
    10
    305
    4
    228
    11
    8
    5
    641
    Total sentenced
    665
    466
    490
    235
    314
    56
    92
    16
    2,334
    % indeterminate
    10.5
    2.1
    62.2
    1.7
    72.6
    19.6
    8.7
    31.3
    27.5
    (a) 'Maximum - minimum', 'Fixed term' and 'Fine default only'.
    (b) 'Periodic detention', 'Indeterminate life', 'Life with a minimum', 'Indeterminate – Her Majesty's pleasure', and 'Indeterminate – administrative''
    (c) 'Maximum - minimum', 'Fixed term', 'Fine default only', and 'Life with a minimum'
    (d) 'Periodic detention', 'Indeterminate life', 'Indeterminate – Her Majesty's pleasure', and 'Indeterminate – administrative''

Mean and median sentence length

42 Mean and median sentence length data (both aggregate sentence and expected time to serve) presented in this publication represent only prison sentences being served by prisoners on the night of 30 June of the reference year. They are not representative of all prison sentences imposed by the Criminal Courts. The mean and median sentence length of prison sentences being served by prisoners on the night of 30 June will be longer compared to the mean and median sentence length of all prison sentences handed down by the Criminal Courts. This is a consequence of the fact that prisoners sentenced to longer prison terms are more likely to be enumerated in the Prisoner Census. Prisoners that are sentenced to shorter prison terms over the course of a financial year are more likely to have completed their term by the 30 June, whilst prisoners that are sentenced to longer prison terms are more likely to remain in prison (including prisoners sentenced to imprisonment in previous financial years who are still serving their term) . For sentence length data relating to all defendants given a prison sentence by Criminal Courts during a financial year, please refer to Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0).

43 Mean and median aggregate sentence length data relate to sentenced prisoners with a maximum-minimum, fixed term or fine default sentence. They exclude prisoners with an indeterminate, life with a minimum or periodic detention sentence.

44 Mean and median expected time to serve data relate to sentenced prisoners with a maximum-minimum, fixed term, life with a minimum or fine default sentence. They exclude prisoners with an indeterminate or periodic detention sentence.

Time on remand

45 Time on remand data in this publication refers to time on remand to date as at 30 June of the reference year and not the total time spent on remand. Time on remand is influenced by a number of factors, particularly the time it takes for a case to come before a court. Mean and median time on remand is not representative of the time spent on remand for all prisoners.

IMPRISONMENT RATES

46 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 2014 and as a result several revisions have been made to previously published rates (see paragraph 52). For details of the methodology formerly used, see previous editions of this publication.

47 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.

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

Equation: Imprisonment rate per 100,000 persons = no. of prisoners divided by ERP multiplied by 100,000

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

Equation: ratio of imprisonment rates = imprisonment rate 1 divided by imprisonment rate 2

50 In June 2013, the ABS 'recast' the historical ERP data for the September 1991 to June 2011 period, as a response to a methodological improvement in the Census Post Enumeration Survey. As a result, the rates per 100,000 adult persons in the Prisoner Census have been recast, and all now use final ERP data based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing.

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

National imprisonment rates

52 For the 2014 edition of the Prisoners in Australia publication, the Australian adult ERP used in the calculation of national imprisonment rates for the 2004 to 2014 period has been redefined to include only persons who can legally be sentenced/remanded into an adult correctional custodial facility in each state and territory for that reference period.

    • From 2006 onwards, this includes persons aged 18 years and over for all states and territories except Queensland, where it is persons aged 17 years and over.
    • In 2004 and 2005, this includes persons aged 18 years and over for all states and territories except Victoria and Queensland, where it is persons aged 17 years and over.
The new definition of the Australian adult ERP differs from that used in previous editions of the publication, where it was defined as all persons aged 18 years and over (editions prior to 2009) and all persons aged 17 years and over (2009 to 2013 editions). This change has resulted in a number of revisions to previously published crude and age standardised national imprisonment rates for the years 2004 to 2013 in this edition of the publication. There has been no change to the calculation of state and territory imprisonment rates. This change will also ensure that the Australian imprisonment rates for Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0) and Corrective Services, Australia (cat .no. 4512.0) are calculated on the same basis.

53 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 97.

54 Imprisonment rates by birthplace are calculated using data for June 2013 ERP for persons aged 17 years and over by country of birth from Migration, Australia 2012-13 (cat. no. 3412.0).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates

55 In April 2014, the ABS published the backcast historical population estimates (for the period 2001–2011) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, along with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population projections (for the period 2001 to 2026) in Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0). As a result, imprisonment rates for both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult population and the non-Indigenous adult population in this publication for the years 2004 to 2013 have been revised, using final ERP data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing.

56 The projections used in this issue are based on Series B, which is one of three main projection series (Series A, B and C) presented in Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0). These respectively imply a high, medium and low overall growth rate of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. All three series assume constant interstate migration at levels observed in the 2011 Census; zero net overseas migration with no arrivals and no departures; and zero unexplained growth in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Different assumptions were made about future fertility, paternity and life expectancy at birth between the three series:
  • Series A assumes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fertility rates remain constant; paternity rates increase by 2% per year; and life expectancy at birth increases by 0.5 years per year for males and 0.45 years per year for females, reaching 76.5 years for males and 80.4 years for females by 2026
  • Series B assumes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fertility rates decline by 0.5% per year; paternity rates increase by 1% per year; and life expectancy at birth increases by 0.3 years per year for males and 0.25 years per year for females, reaching 73.5 years for males and 77.4 years for females by 2026
  • Series C assumes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fertility rates decline by 1% per year; paternity rates remain constant; and life expectancy at birth increases by 0.2 years per year for males and 0.15 years per year for females, reaching 72.0 years for males and 75.9 years for females by 2026.
57 The adult ERP used to calculate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates is based on Series B projections for 30 June of the relevant calendar year. This is consistent with the decision made in 2009, following consultation with the National Corrective Services Statistics Advisory Group and other stakeholders. The publication, Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0), suggests that Series B will be the most appropriate choice for most users.

Age standardisation of imprisonment rates

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

59 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 40 years and over was 20%, compared with 44% of non-Indigenous people (and 43% of the total Australian population).

60 ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION, AUSTRALIA – 30 JUNE 2001
Diagram: Estimated resident population, Australia - 30 June 2001
61 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.

62 Prisoner Census data shows that imprisonment rates peak at 30-34 years of age for both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations, after which they begin to steadily decline. Whilst the overall imprisonment rate for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is higher than the overall imprisonment rate for the non-Indigenous population, some of this difference will be due to differences in the age distribution between the two populations. Specifically, the non-Indigenous population has a considerably larger proportion of persons in the older age categories, where imprisonment rates are notably lower. Age standardisation controls for the impact of differing population age structures on the overall imprisonment rate.

63 Age standardised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous imprisonment rates have been presented in Tables 16 and 17 of this publication. Ratios of the rates are also included in these tables, and quantify the size of the difference in the proportion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult population that is imprisoned, compared to the proportion of the non-Indigenous adult population that is imprisoned. A ratio of 10, for example, denotes that the proportion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult population that is imprisoned is ten times greater than the proportion of the non-Indigenous adult population that is imprisoned. The ratio of crude rates included in table 19 can be compared with the ratio of age-standardised rates in table 17 to obtain a measure of the impact of the different age structures for the two populations on the overall imprisonment rate. The larger the difference between the two ratios, the greater the impact that differences in the age structure of the two populations is having on the overall imprisonment rate.

64 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 twenty five years; the next revision will be based on final data from the 2026 Census.

INDIGENOUS STATUS

65 The ABS conducts an ongoing program of quality assurance to monitor and improve the quality of Indigenous 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.

66 The quality of the Indigenous 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'.

67 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 Indigenous status may be recorded from information previously collected.

68 Some people in custody have their Indigenous status recorded as unknown on the information systems of corrective services agencies, as their status has not been able to be obtained. Indigenous status was unknown for 0.2% of all prisoner records in 2014.

CLASSIFICATIONS

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

69 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 and 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 (cat. no. 1234.0).

70 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).

71 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.

72 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).

73 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.

74 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

75 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 Census 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).

76 In the Prisoners Census, the NOI is used to determine the most serious charge for unsentenced prisoners for all states and territories, except Western Australia (see paragraph 80). 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 paragraphs 78–79.

Standard Australian Classification of Countries

77 Country of birth information is classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), Second Edition (cat. no. 1269.0).


MOST SERIOUS OFFENCE/CHARGE

Sentenced prisoners

78 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.

79 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.

Unsentenced prisoners

80 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. 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 has always been determined by calculating the lowest ANCO Code. The offence is then mapped to ANZSOC.


COURT OF SENTENCE/REMAND

81 The court of sentence/remand data refer to whether the offender was sentenced or remanded to custody by the Higher Courts, such as 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 imposed by more than one court level, 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.
  • 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

82 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

83 In New South Wales, the Kariong Juvenile Correctional Centre facility operates under the authority of Corrective Services NSW. These prisoners are excluded from this collection.

84 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 detention centres were progressively closed and as at 30 June 2012 all centres used for residential purposes (Stage 1) had closed. As at 30 June 2013, however, a small number of offenders were still managed on Stage 2 of the periodic detention program.

85 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.

86 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.

87 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 data from 2012 onwards for Miscellaneous offences for New South Wales with previous years.

88 In 2014, New South Wales improved their quality assurance procedures for coding prisoners with life sentences. As a result, a higher proportion of prisoners are being coded correctly to Life with a minimum sentence, rather than to Life with an indeterminate term. This may impact on mean and median expected time to serve (see paragraph 42). Caution should be taken when making comparisons of data prior to 2014 with subsequent years.

Victoria

89 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.

Queensland

90 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.

91 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.

South Australia

92 In 2013, South Australia introduced improved coding procedures for life sentences, resulting in a shift of sentence types from Life with an indeterminate term to Life with a minimum sentence. This may impact on mean and median aggregate sentence length and expected time to serve (see paragraph 42). Caution should be taken when making comparisons of data prior to 2013 with subsequent years.

93 From 2014, South Australian data shows the impact of legislative changes from the Correctional Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2012 and changes to administrative procedures. The result has been an increase in South Australian prisoners held for ANZSOC 1513 Breach of suspended sentences and a decrease in those held for 1522 Breach of parole for 2014.

Western Australia

94 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.

95 In 2013, Western Australia implemented the use of the standard definition of an episode to their data (see paragraphs 15–16). The impact of this change has been an increase in the proportion of prisoners with a most serious offence of ANZSOC 1522 Breach of parole, and an increase in the proportion of prisoners with prior imprisonment.

Tasmania

96 Most serious offence/charge data for Tasmania has been determined by the application of the NOI as the longest sentence cannot be attributed to a single offence (see paragraph 79).

Australian Capital Territory

97 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.


CONFIDENTIALITY

98 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

99 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.


REVISIONS

100 The following data have been revised:
  • Imprisonment rates have been revised due to the revised methodology for calculating national imprisonment rates (refer to paragraph 52) and the re-basing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates (refer to paragraphs 55–57).
  • Mean and median aggregate sentence data for Federal prisoners for 2013 have been revised due to improvements in the processing methodology.

RELATED PUBLICATIONS

ABS publications

101 Details of other ABS publications relating to crime and justice statistics can be found on the Related Information tab.

101 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS web site. The ABS provides a release calendar on the website detailing products to be released in the next six months.

Non-ABS publications

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

FEDERAL OFFENDERS

Introduction

103 This collection is a subset of the Prisoner Census collection. It presents statistics about prisoners and parolees serving sentences for at least one federal offence as at 30 June 2014 for selected states and territories. A range of information is presented on the demographic characteristics of the federal prisoners and parolees (age, sex, country of birth and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status). It also includes information on aggregate sentence length (for prisoners), order length (for parolees) and selected offences.

Scope

104 The scope of the statistics in this collection includes all offenders, either in custody in an adult correctional institution as a sentenced prisoner, or on parole (in the community), with at least one offence against Commonwealth/federal legislation in the current episode.

Counting rules

105 Statistics for prisoners with a federal offence are presented by the state or territory in which they were held (for prisoners). Statistics for parolees with a federal offence are presented by the state or territory that has responsibility for them (for parolees).

Counting units

106 The principal counting unit for the Federal Offenders collection is the offender. For this collection, an offender includes those that are sentenced (in prison) and those on parole. A sentenced federal prisoner is a sentenced prisoner in custody in an adult corrective services institution with at least one offence against Commonwealth/federal legislation in the current episode. A federal parolee is an offender on parole, in the community (i.e. not in custody) who is under the authority of the Corrective Services agency, with at least one offence against Commonwealth/federal legislation that has an associated Commonwealth parole order, in the current episode.

107 The secondary counting unit for the Federal Offenders collection is the offence. For this collection, the scope is limited to those offenders with at least one federal offence in their ‘current episode’.

Reference period

108 The collection counts those federal offenders in custody at an adult correctional facility (as a sentenced prisoner) and those with a parole order (in the community) at midnight 30 June each year.

Episode

109 The ‘current episode’ for an offender refers to an episode that is current on 30 June (of the collection year). The ‘current episode’ for an offender may contain only state offences; or only federal offences; or a combination of both state and federal offences. For this collection, only those offenders with one or more federal offence(s) in the current episode are in scope.

Aggregate sentence length

110 These data are for the federal prisoner population only. The aggregate sentence is the longest period that the convicted prisoner may be detained for the current sentenced federal offence(s) 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.

Order length

111 These data are for the federal parolee population only. It presents the total parole order length for the offender, based on their federal offence(s). It is calculated as the length of time between the date the parole order commenced and its expiry date.

Selected offence

112 For this collection, the scope is limited only to those offences against Commonwealth/federal legislation. The Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC) is used to classify the output of offence data. Offence information presented in this publication is designed to provide a count of the total number of individual federal offences. They do not relate to the most serious offence or principal offence as is the case with the Prisoner Census.

113 Accurate identification of federal offences is the basis for the correct identification of the federal prisoner and federal parolee counts. Therefore, the federal offence data supplied for this collection have been quality assured to ensure the correct coding of local federal offences to the ANZSOC and to validate the federal offender population being enumerated. As a result, not all offences have been published.

114 Due to difficulties in identifying the legislation associated with the prisoners in New South Wales and Queensland, counts of federal prisoners may be overstated in these jurisdictions.