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4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/02/2003   
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PRISONERS

There were 22,492 prisoners in Australia on 30 June 2002, an increase of less than 1% on the 22,458 prisoners at 30 June 2001. The imprisonment rate of 148 prisoners per 100,000 adult population represents a 1% decrease on the rate of 151 prisoners per 100,000 adult population at 30 June 2001. This is the first decrease in the national imprisonment rate in the period 1992–2002. New South Wales had the largest prisoner population of 8,759 with Queensland (4,721) having the next largest number of prisoners. The highest imprisonment rate of 466 prisoners per 100,000 adult population was recorded in the Northern Territory. While this is three times the national rate, it is 9% below the 2001 rate for the Northern Territory of 511 prisoners per 100,000 adult population.

IMPRISONMENT RATES(a)
Graph - Imprisonment rates(a)



Between 2001 and 2002 Tasmania recorded a 23% increase in the number of prisoners, the largest for any state or territory. A policy of more active opposition by police to bail contributed to an increase in remandees, while for sentenced prisoners, the number expected to serve short sentences (less than 6 months) increased by over 40% and the number expected to serve 1–2 years nearly doubled. In contrast, Western Australia recorded a 12% decrease in the number of prisoners as a result of an increase in the acquittal and dismissal rates in courts, greater use by the courts of suspended imprisonment and community orders as penalties, and a decrease in the breach rate for early release orders. The 1% decrease in total prisoner numbers in New South Wales resulted from the 15% decrease in the number of periodic detainees.

CHANGE IN PRISONER NUMBERS BETWEEN 30 JUNE 2001 AND 2002(a)
Graph - CHANGE IN PRISONER NUMBERS BETWEEN 30 JUNE 2001 AND 2002(a)



Indigenous prisoners

There were 4,494 Indigenous prisoners in Australia (20% of the prisoner population) at 30 June 2002. With an imprisonment rate of 1,806 prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population, Indigenous persons were 15 times more likely than non-Indigenous persons to be in prison. While the highest Indigenous imprisonment rate of 2,414 prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population was recorded in Western Australia, this is well below the 3,036 prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population recorded a year earlier. The impact of the factors outlined in the previous paragraph on Western Australia's imprisonment rates between 2001 and 2002 has been greater for Indigenous prisoners (20% decrease) than non-Indigenous prisoners (9% decrease). The 20% decrease in Western Australia, along with a 1% decrease in the Northern Territory, offset the increases in all other states and the Australian Capital Territory, resulting in a 1% decrease in the national Indigenous imprisonment rate.

INDIGENOUS IMPRISONMENT RATES(a)
Graph - INDIGENOUS IMPRISONMENT RATES(a)



AGE AND SEX

Approximately 40% of prisoners were males aged between 20 and 29 years. The 25–29 year age group had the highest imprisonment rates for both males and females, with 639 male prisoners per 100,000 adult males (4% increase on the 2001 rate), and 51 female prisoners per 100,000 adult females (10% increase).

10 YEAR COMPARISON

Some notable changes that have occurred between the 1992 and 2002 prisoner censuses are listed below:
  • The prisoner population increased from 15,559 at 30 June 1992 to 22,492 at 30 June 2002. The 45% increase in the number of prisoners during this period exceeded the 15% growth in the Australian adult population, resulting in the adult imprisonment rate increasing from 118 to 148 prisoners per 100,000 adult population.
  • While males continue to be the majority of the prisoner population, the proportion of prisoners who were female increased from 5% in 1992 to 7% in 2002.
  • The proportion of prisoners who were Indigenous rose from 14% in 1992 to 20% in 2002.
  • The proportion of prisoners on remand has increased from 12% in 1992 to 20% in 2002.

TABLE 1. PRISONERS, By States And Territories
NSW(a)
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT in ACT
ACT in NSW(a)
ACT Total
Aust.(b)

NUMBER
Males
8,154
3,286
4,433
1,377
2,606
397
646
109
116
225
21,008
Females
605
254
288
84
194
30
21
8
7
15
1,484
Indigenous
1,503
160
1,183
243
872
61
459
13
12
25
4,494
Non-Indigenous
7,167
3,345
3,538
1,050
1,928
366
208
104
109
213
17,706
Unknown
89
35
-
168
-
-
-
-
2
2
292
Sentenced
7,117
2,961
3,755
971
2,302
338
565
69
123
192
18,078
Unsentenced
1,642
579
966
490
498
89
102
48
-
48
4,414
All prisoners
8,759
3,540
4,721
1,461
2,800
427
667
117
123
240
22,492

PROPORTION(%)
Males
93.1
92.8
93.9
94.3
93.1
93.0
96.9
93.2
94.3
93.8
93.4
Females
6.9
7.2
6.1
5.7
6.9
7.0
3.1
6.8
5.7
6.3
6.6
Indigenous
17.2
4.5
25.1
16.6
31.1
14.3
68.8
11.1
9.8
10.4
20.0
Non-Indigenous
81.8
94.5
74.9
71.9
68.9
85.7
31.2
88.9
88.6
88.9
78.7
Unknown
1.0
1.0
-
11.5
-
-
-
-
1.6
0.8
1.3
Sentenced
81.3
83.6
79.5
66.5
82.2
79.2
84.7
59.0
100.0
80.0
80.4
Unsentenced
18.7
16.4
20.5
33.5
17.8
20.8
15.3
41.0
-
20.0
19.6
All prisoners
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) The majority of full-time prisoners sentenced in the ACT are held in NSW prisons. See Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 10–11.
(b) The ACT in NSW figures are a subset of the NSW figures and are not separately counted in the Australian totals. See Explanatory Notes, paragraph 11.


TABLE 2. IMPRISONMENT RATES(a), By States And Territories
NSW(b)
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT(c)
Aust.

Males
318.4
178.4
319.7
236.2
356.6
225.7
862.4
185.1
282.4
Females
22.9
13.0
20.1
13.8
26.2
16.1
30.8
11.8
19.2
Indigenous
2,146.2
1,109.6
1,733.5
1,703.1
2,413.9
621.6
1,340.0
1,133.8
1,806.3
Non-Indigenous
139.1
88.6
128.5
89.2
134.3
104.0
191.1
86.2
118.7
All prisoners
168.0
93.4
167.3
122.7
190.2
118.1
466.2
96.3
148.3

(a) Rate per 100,000 adult population. See Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 17–26.
(b) Data for NSW excludes ACT prisoners held in NSW prisons.
(c) Data for ACT includes ACT prisoners held in ACT as well as ACT prisoners held in NSW.


TABLE 3. PRISONER CHARACTERISTICS, 1992-2002
All prisoners(a)
Mean age
Females
Indigenous
Known prior adult imprisonment
Remandees
30 June
no.
years
%
%
%
%

1992
15,559
30.6
4.9
14.3
58.2
12.0
1993
15,866
31.1
4.8
15.2
56.5
12.0
1994
16,944
31.4
4.9
16.5
60.5
11.5
1995
17,428
31.7
4.8
17.1
56.3
11.5
1996
18,193
31.8
5.3
18.0
57.4
12.7
1997
19,128
31.9
5.7
18.7
57.9
13.4
1998
19,906
32.5
5.7
18.8
62.1
14.0
1999
21,538
32.7
6.3
20.0
57.9
14.9
2000
21,714
32.9
6.4
18.9
56.4
17.4
2001
22,458
33.0
6.7
19.8
58.4
19.3
2002
22,492
33.4
6.6
20.0
58.3
19.6

(a) Prior to 1997, ACT periodic detainees were not included.
Source: 1992–93: Australian Institute of Criminology, Australian Prisoners; 1994–2002: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Prisoners in Australia.


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