4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2016 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/12/2016   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 This publication presents information from the National Prisoner Census on prisoners held in custody in Australian adult prisons in all states and territories on 30 June 2016. 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 7–8, 10, 12, 16, 20–21, 25–49, 55, 61–62, 75, 80–82, 85–87, 89–107 and 111.


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
  • 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 exception of 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.


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 2016.

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. Post-sentence detention is deemed to be a continuation of the existing episode.

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. This is also the maximum sentence length for a convicted prisoner for 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 25–48.

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, earliest release date is calculated based on the date the prisoner is eligible for parole pursuant to the Corrective Services Act 2006 (CSA). Different parole eligibility date (PED) calculations apply depending on the offence for which the person has been convicted and the length of the term of imprisonment given by the sentencing court. The CSA prescribes two types of parole – court ordered parole and board ordered parole. Parole is the only form of early release available to prisoners in Queensland.

Court Ordered Parole

29 A person sentenced to a term of imprisonment of no more than three years, and the term of imprisonment is not for a sexual offence or a serious violent offence is eligible for court ordered parole, pursuant to Part 9, Division 3 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (PSA). Under Court Ordered Parole, the court must fix a parole eligibility date at the time of sentence. The person is released from custody on this date under section 199 of the CSA.

Board Ordered Parole

30 A person sentenced to a term of imprisonment greater than three years, or to a term of imprisonment for a serious violent offence or for a sexual offence must apply to the Parole Board for parole. The Parole Board will not consider any application for parole (except for exceptional circumstances parole) prior to the prisoner’s parole eligibility date (PED). The calculation of a parole eligibility date (PED) depends on the offence for which the person has been convicted. Mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment also apply for particular offences in Queensland.

31 For prisoners sentenced to a term of imprisonment of life, sections 181 and 181A of the CSA applies, unless a later date has been fixed by the sentencing court under the PSA. Prisoners with a life sentence have a PED of:
  • if section 305(2) of the Criminal Code applied on sentence (multiple counts of murder) – after 30 years
  • if section 305(4) of the Criminal Code applied on sentence (murder of a police officer) – after 25 years
  • if the prisoner is serving a life sentence for murder and sections 305(2) or 305(4) were not applied on sentence – after 20 years
  • otherwise – after 15 years
  • if section 161E of the PSA applied on sentence (a repeat serious child sex offence) – after 20 years.

32 For prisoners sentenced to a term of imprisonment for a serious violent offence or other particular serious offences, sections 182 and 182A of the CSA applies, unless a later date has been fixed by the sentencing court under the PSA.

33 Prisoners serving a term of imprisonment for a serious violent offence, or sentenced under section 314A of the Criminal Code applied on sentence (unlawful striking causing death), have a PED of either 80% of the term of imprisonment or 15 years, whichever is lesser.

34 Prisoners serving a term of imprisonment for a drug trafficking offence have a PED of 80% of the term of imprisonment.

35 For prisoners detained by a judge under Criminal Law Amendment Act 1945, section 183 of the CSA applies, unless a later date has been fixed by the sentencing court under the PSA. The prisoner’s PED is the day after the day on which the prisoner has been detained for half the fixed period determined by the judge.

36 For prisoners sentenced to a term of imprisonment for particular offences under the Weapons Act 1990, section 185B of the CSA applies. If section 50, 50B or 65 of the Weapons Act 1990 is applied on sentence, the prisoner’s PED is the day after the day on which the prisoner has served the minimum penalty for the offence specified in the Weapons Act 1990.

37 Under section 184 of the CSA, a prisoner’s PED is 50% of the term of imprisonment if:
  • the prisoner was sentenced before the commencement of the CSA to a period of imprisonment of more than 2 years or, if the offence was committed before 1 July 2001, to a period of imprisonment of any length
  • the prisoner was sentenced after the commencement of the CSA to a period of imprisonment of more than 3 years and sections 181 to 183 or 185B of the CSA do not apply
  • was sentenced to a period of imprisonment ordered to be served under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992, section 147(1)(b) or (c)
  • the prisoner was the subject of a court ordered parole order that has been cancelled under the CSA.

South Australia

38 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

39 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

40 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

41 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.

42 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

43 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
  • reduce the sentence below three months.

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

45 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

46 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.

47 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

48 Prior to 2009, 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

49 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 2016 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 84% in South Australia.
    Sentenced prisoners with a most serious offence of homicide and related offences, by selected sentence types and state/territory, 30 June 2016(a)
    Sentence type
    NSW
    Vic.
    Qld
    SA
    WA
    Tas.
    NT
    ACT
    Aust.
    Aggregate sentence
    Determinate(b)
    596
    403
    153
    41
    95
    46
    44
    7
    1,390
    Indeterminate(c)
    102
    50
    325
    199
    251
    16
    42
    3
    992
    Total sentenced
    699
    453
    476
    238
    350
    57
    95
    14
    2,381
    % indeterminate
    14.6
    11.0
    68.3
    83.6
    71.7
    28.1
    44.2
    21.4
    41.7
    Expected time to serve
    Determinate(d)
    617
    447
    153
    190
    311
    45
    79
    7
    1,857
    Indeterminate(e)
    81
    13
    325
    48
    36
    15
    13
    3
    527
    Total sentenced
    699
    453
    476
    238
    350
    57
    95
    14
    2,381
    % indeterminate
    11.6
    2.9
    68.3
    20.2
    10.3
    26.3
    13.7
    21.4
    22.1
    (a) Due to perturbation, component cells may not add to published totals (see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 108–110).
    (b) 'Maximum – minimum', 'Fixed term' and 'Fine default only'.
    (c) 'Periodic detention', 'Indeterminate life', 'Life with a minimum', 'Indeterminate – Her Majesty's pleasure', and 'Indeterminate – administrative'
    (d) 'Maximum – minimum', 'Fixed term', 'Fine default only', and 'Life with a minimum'
    (e) 'Periodic detention', 'Indeterminate life', 'Indeterminate – Her Majesty's pleasure', and 'Indeterminate – administrative'

Mean and median sentence length

50 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).

51 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.

52 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

53 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

54 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.

55 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)) as at 31 March of the relevant calendar year. All estimates and projections for the Australian Capital Territory exclude Jervis Bay Territory. Estimates and projections for Australia exclude the external territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, with the exception of table 21. For table 21, data on country of birth excluding external territories are not available. As a result imprisonment rates by country of birth may be slightly lower than would be the case if these data were available.

56 From 2016, all crude imprisonment rate data (located in tables 2–3, 14,16, 18–21) are based on the perturbed population counts in these tables (see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 108–110). Prior to 2016, data for crude imprisonment rates were based on unperturbed data. As per previous years, age standardised imprisonment rates are calculated from unpertubed data (located in tables 16–17).

57 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

58 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

59 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.

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

National imprisonment rates

61 The Australian adult ERP used in the calculation of national imprisonment rates includes 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.


62 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 106.

63 Imprisonment rates by birthplace are calculated using country of birth data, this data is available on request from Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates

64 The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population 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.

65 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. Non-Indigenous rates are calculated based on estimates of the non-Indigenous population derived as the difference between ERP as at 31 March and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population projections as at 30 June for the relevant calendar year.

Age standardisation of imprisonment rates

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

67 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).

68 ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION, AUSTRALIA – 30 JUNE 2001
Diagram: Estimated resident population, Australia - 30 June 2001
69 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.

70 Based on comparisons across age groups, it is known that imprisonment rates decrease in older age groups, i.e. that the imprisonment rate is correlated with age. Further, based on a comparison of 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.

71 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. The ratio of crude rates included in table 19 can be compared with the ratio of age-standardised rates in table 17 to obtain an idea of the impact of the different age structures for the two populations on the likelihood of being imprisoned. If the crude ratio is substantially higher than the age standardised ratio, this in an indicator of the extent to which the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population have higher proportions of persons in the age cohorts most likely to be imprisoned.

72 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 25 years; the next revision will be based on final data from the 2026 Census.


INDIGENOUS STATUS

73 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.

74 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'.

75 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.

76 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 0.1% of all prisoner records at 30 June 2016.


CLASSIFICATIONS

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

77 The offence information presented in this issue are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification, 2011 (ANZSOC) (cat. no. 1234.0). The 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.

78 The first release of this classification was the Australian Standard Offence Classification 1997 (cat. no. 1234.0) (ASOC97). Issues of the publication from 2001 to 2009 were based on ASOC97. Prior to 2001, offence data were based on the Australian National Classification of Offences,1985 (ANCO) (cat. no. 1234.0).

79 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 ANZSOC; however, changes were not made to the content of the classification.

80 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 classification changes affected offence information for both sentenced and unsentenced prisoners, however analysis found that the overall impact to the time series prior to 2009 and to comparability across jurisdictions was minimal. For more information refer to the Technical Note in Prisoners in Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 4517.0).

81 For the 2010 Prisoner Census, both Queensland and Western Australia implemented ASOC08.

82 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

83 In this collection, the National Offence Index (NOI) is used to determine the most serious charge for unsentenced prisoners for all states and territories, except Western Australia (see paragraph 87). The NOI is a tool which provides an ordinal ranking of all offences 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 Prisoner 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).

Standard Australian Classification of Countries

84 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

85 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.

86 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

87 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

88 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

89 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

90 Data for the Kariong Detention Centre are included for the first time for the 2015 cycle. Prior to 2015 the Centre, although still operating under the authority of Corrective Services NSW, housed juvenile prisoners as the Kariong Juvenile Correctional Centre and these prisoners were excluded from this collection.

91 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. New South Wales abolished periodic detention on 1 October 2010, and as such, the number of periodic detainees have been decreasing since. As at 30 June 2016, there were a small number of periodic detainees in New South Wales and these are included in prisoner totals (where relevant).

92 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.

93 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
  • those who are charged with an indictable offence who already stand convicted of an earlier indictable offence.

94 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.

95 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 52). Caution should be taken when making comparisons of data prior to 2014 with subsequent years.

Victoria

96 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.

97 Data for Victoria for 2015 were provided for the morning of 30 June (i.e. the midnight muster from 29 June) due to data anomalies on the census date.

Queensland

98 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 three years or less. Court-ordered Parole is not available to sex offenders or serious violent offenders.

99 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

100 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 paragraphs 51–52). Caution should be taken when making comparisons of data prior to 2013 with subsequent years.

101 From 2014, South Australian data shows the impact of legislative changes from the Correctional Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2012 and changes to administrative procedures. This has resulted in 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.

Western Australia

102 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.

103 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.

104 In 2016, Western Australia undertook a quality review of data relating to indeterminate and life without a minimum sentences, which resulted in improved quality assurance procedures for coding prisoners with life sentences. As a result, a higher proportion of prisoners were reported as serving Life with a minimum sentence, rather than Life with an indeterminate term. This may impact on mean and median expected time to serve (see paragraph 52). Caution should be taken when making comparisons of 2016 data with previous years.

Tasmania

105 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 86).

Australian Capital Territory

106 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.

107 From 1 July, 2016, periodic detention was no longer a sentencing option in the Australian Capital Territory. As at 30 June 2016, there were a small number of periodic detainees and these are include in prisoner totals (where relevant). For operational reasons some prisoners housed at the ACT Periodic Detention Centre have been recorded against the Alexander Maconochie Centre. Counts for the former location in table 33 will therefore be understated and counts at the latter location will be overstated.


CONFIDENTIALITY

108 The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. The requirement means that the ABS must ensure that any statistical information about individuals cannot be derived from published data. To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values and summary variables. This technique is called perturbation and was applied to the Prisoner Census collection for the first time for the 2015 reference period. Perturbation involves small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics.

109 After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, the sum of the components of a total will not necessarily give the same result as the published total in a particular table. As such, proportions may add to more or less than 100%. Readers are advised to use the published totals rather than deriving totals based on the component cells. Cells with small values may be proportionally more affected by perturbation than large values. Users are advised against conducting analyses and drawing conclusions based on small values.

110 Perturbation has been applied to data presented in this publication, including historical data from 2005 onwards. Previously, a different technique was used to confidentialise the data and therefore there may be small differences between historical data presented in this issue of the publication and those published in previous issues.


POST–SENTENCE DETENTION ORDER

111 A post-sentence detention order is an order which subjects an offender to extended detention in prison following the completion of a custodial sentence. Post-sentence detention orders are made by a court where an offender has a history of serious offending, usually involving sexual or violent offences, and it determines that there is an unacceptable risk that the offender will commit further similar offences if released from prison. From the 2015 publication onwards, data for post-sentence detention orders are reported in separate categories. Prior to 2015, post-sentence detention data were included in the sentenced prisoner totals.
  • Post-sentence detention data are currently not applicable (as it is not available as an order) for the Australian Capital Territory.
  • As post-sentence detention is deemed to be a continuation of the existing episode (see paragraph 15), a detainee will only be recorded as having prior adult imprisonment if there was an earlier episode prior to the episode extended by post-sentence detention.
  • Data on persons serving post-sentence detention orders have not been perturbed.


ADDITIONAL DATA

112 Special tabulations may be produced on request to meet individual user requirements. For further information, contact the ABS National Information and Referral Services (NIRS) on 1300 135 070 or email client.services@abs.gov.au.


REVISIONS

113 There were no revisions for the 2016 cycle.


RELATED PUBLICATIONS

ABS publications

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

115 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

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

FEDERAL OFFENDERS

Introduction

117 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 2016 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 Indigenous status).

Scope

118 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

119 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

120 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 (see paragraph 122).

Reference period

121 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

122 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.