4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/12/2004   
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December 23, 2004
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Prison population increased by 40% over past 10 years

The prisoner population in Australia has increased by more than 40% over the decade to June 2004, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

This is higher than the 15% growth in the Australian adult population in the same period.

The female prisoner population doubled to 1,672 over the decade. The male prison population had increased by 40% to 22,499 during the same time.

Overall, the adult imprisonment rate increased from 127 to 157 prisoners per 100,000 adult population over the period.

Other changes in the prison population in the 1994-2004 period include:
    • The mean age of prisoners has increased from 31 years to 34 years.
    • The proportion of unsentenced prisoners has increased from 12% to 20%.
    • The proportion of sentenced prisoners serving an aggregate sentence length of 10 years or more has increased from 10% to 13%.
    • Sentenced prisoners with a most serious offence of 'homicide and related offences' increased from 9% to 10% and 'acts intended to cause injury' (including assault) from 11% to 14%.

At June 2004, there were 24,171 prisoners in Australia, an increase of 3% since 30 June 2003. The median aggregate sentence length was 3.2 years and the median expected time to serve was two years.

Other findings as at 30 June 2004 include:
    • Over 50% of prisoners were males aged 20-34 years.
    • Females represented 7% of the total prisoner population.
    • Almost 60% of male prisoners and 50% of female prisoners are known to have prior imprisonment.
    • Nearly 1 in 2 sentenced prisoners had a most serious offence involving violence or the threat of violence.

More details are in Prisoners in Australia, 2004 (cat. no. 4517.0).