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4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2011 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/06/2012   
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Contents >> Federal offender characteristics

FEDERAL OFFENDERS

INTRODUCTION

This summary presents statistics about prisoners and parolees serving sentences for federal offences as at 30 June 2011, for the states of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania. Data for these states are available for this first release.

Prisoner statistics are derived from data about each prisoner provided to the ABS by the state and territory agencies responsible for corrective services. The ABS receives data directly from these agencies in all states and territories.

Although this collection uses the same reference date as the ABS Prisoner Census collection (30 June 2011), the scope is different. The Prisoner Census counts all prisoners, both sentenced and unsentenced. The Federal Offender collection only counts sentenced prisoners, with at least one federal offence in the current episode. It also counts parolees, with at least one federal offence.

FEDERAL OFFENDERS IN AUSTRALIA

Federal offender data have been compiled in this release in order to provide a more complete picture of corrective services in Australia. People sentenced to imprisonment for a federal offence are processed and managed by state and territory corrective services. Therefore, the management of federal prisoners is an activity where the federal and the state and territory criminal justice systems interact.

The publication Federal Defendants, Selected States and Territories, 2010-11 (cat. no. 4515.0) gives a view of the processing of federal offences in the criminal courts.

The scope of the collection consists of all adult offenders, either in custody in an adult correctional institution as a sentenced prisoner, or on parole, with at least one offence against Commonwealth/Federal legislation, in the current episode.

The current episode for an offender refers to a continuous period of imprisonment/parole that is current at 30 June of the collection year. The current episode for a federal offender may contain only federal offences or a combination of both state and federal offences.

Graphic: Sentenced prisoners and parolees



Mean and median sentence lengths

Information is presented on the mean and median sentence lengths for each type of federal offender. The mean is the arithmetic average of the sentence lengths in a particular category and the median is the middle value in a particular category when the values are sorted in order. For more information on means and medians, refer to Statistical Language!, 2008 (cat.no. 1332.0.55.002).


FEDERAL PRISONERS AND PAROLEES

A federal prisoner is a person sentenced to a custodial order after pleading guilty or after being found guilty of a federal offence by a criminal court.

TABLE 1. FEDERAL PRISONERS BY STATE, 2011


NSW
Qld
SA
Tas.
528
132
29
6



A federal parolee is a person serving parole in the community under the authority of a Corrective Services agency, in relation to at least one federal offence.

TABLE 2. FEDERAL PAROLEES BY STATE, 2011
NSW
Qld
SA
Tas.
168
30
14
-

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)



CHARACTERISTICS OF FEDERAL OFFENDERS

Federal offenders have been compared against the total prisoner population for Australia measured in the Prisoner Census. Data on the characteristics of all prisoners is presented in the previous chapters of Prisoners in Australia, 2011 (cat. no. 4517.0).

Sex

The majority of federal offenders are male. For federal prisoners, the proportion of males ranged from 86% in South Australia to 50% in Tasmania. For federal parolees, the proportion of males was highest (87%) in Queensland and lowest (79%) in New South Wales and South Australia.

The proportion of females is higher for federal prisoners than in the total prisoner population, where females comprised 7% of prisoners. For federal prisoners, the proportion of females ranged from 50% in Tasmania to 14% in South Australia. For federal parolees, the proportion of females was highest (21%) in New South Wales and South Australia, and lowest (13%) in Queensland.

Age

The age profile of federal offenders varied across the states. For federal prisoners, the largest age group ranged from 25-29 years in South Australia to 50-54 years in New South Wales. For federal parolees, the largest age group ranged from 35-39 years in South Australia to 50-54 years in Queensland.

For the total prisoner population, the largest age group was 25-29 years at a national level and also for each of the contributing federal offender states. At the state level, median ages for federal prisoners were consistently higher than for all prisoners.

TABLE 3. MEDIAN AGE BY STATE, 2011
NSW
Qld
SA
Tas.
Federal prisoners
44.0
41.0
49.0
49.0
All prisoners
33.3
32.7
35.6
32.3


Country of Birth

All states had a lower proportion of Australian-born federal prisoners than the proportion for all prisoners (79%). South Australia had the highest proportion (70%) of prisoners born in Australia and New South Wales had the lowest (31%). The exception to this was Tasmania, where all federal prisoners were born in Australia. A lower proportion of federal parolees were born in Australia than the total prisoner population, with the highest proportion in Queensland (77%) and the lowest in New South Wales (27%).

Sentence and order length

Across the states sentence length varied for federal prisoners. For New South Wales and Queensland the most common sentence length was 5 years to under 10 years, whereas for South Australia it was 1 year to under 2 years. For Tasmania sentence length was evenly spread between under 3 months and 1 year to under 2 years.

Graph: FEDERAL PRISONERS, Mean and median sentence length by selected states


Comparing median sentence lengths of federal prisoners against all prisoners varied across the states. For Queensland and Tasmania, federal prisoners had lower median sentences, whereas in New South Wales and South Australia, federal prisoners had higher median sentences.

For federal parolees the most common order length was 3 years to under 4 years for New South Wales and Queensland and 2 years to under 3 years for South Australia.

Graph: FEDERAL PAROLEES, Mean and median order length by selected states


Indigenous status

The proportion of persons identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the total prisoner population was 26%. The proportion of federal offenders identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander was lower than the level for all prisoners in all states. South Australia had the highest proportion of federal prisoners identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander with 10% and New South Wales had the lowest with 2%. Tasmania had no Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander federal prisoners.

For each of the states, the proportions for both Indigenous federal prisoners and Indigenous parolees were lower than for the total prisoner population.


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