4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/02/2003   
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February 20, 2003
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Over half of Australia's prisoners are 20-35 year old males

More than half (56%) of Australia's 22,492 prisoners were males aged between 20 and 35 according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

This age group was 14% of the total Australian adult population at 30 June 2002.

Approximately half of all prisoners serving a sentence had a most serious offence involving violence or the threat of violence.

Although 93% of Australia's prisoners were males, the number of female prisoners almost doubled in the last decade, (from 760 to 1,484) with the proportion of female prisoners increasing from 5% in 1992 to 7% in 2002.

One-fifth of the prisoner population was identified as Indigenous. In comparison, approximately 2% of the total adult Australian population identifies as being Indigenous.

Other findings include:
  • Australia's prisoner population at 30 June 2002 had increased by 34 (less than 1%) since 30 June 2001.
  • The national rate of imprisonment decreased by 1% to 148 prisoners per 100,000 of the adult population. This is the first decrease in the national rate of imprisonment in the last decade (1992-2002).
  • The national rate of imprisonment of Indigenous adults decreased by 1% to 1,806 Indigenous prisoners per 100,000 of the adult Indigenous population. This was primarily the result of a 20% decrease in the Western Australian Indigenous imprisonment rate.
  • The proportion of prisoners waiting for their cases to be finalised at 30 June increased from 12% in 1992 to 20% in 2002.
  • Up to 30 June 2002 the average time prisoners spent on remand was five months, an increase of 11% on the previous year. One in ten prisoners held on remand at 30 June had spent more than 11.8 months in custody.
  • Convicted offenders were less likely to be sent to prison for short sentences. Between 2001 and 2002 there was an 18% decrease in the number of prisoners who were expected to serve sentences of six months or less.
Further details are in Prisoners in Australia, 30 June 2002 (cat. no. 4517.0).