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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004   
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This page was updated on 23 Nov 2012 to include the disclaimer below. No other content in this article was affected.

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Users are warned that historic issues of this publication may contain language or views which, reflecting the authors' attitudes or that of the period in which the item was written, may be considered to be inappropriate or offensive today.


Indigenous prisoners

At 30 June 2002 there were 4,494 Indigenous prisoners in Australia (20% of the Australian prisoner population) with a national rate of imprisonment for Indigenous persons of about 1,800 per 100,000 adult Indigenous population (table 11.31). Western Australia recorded the highest imprisonment rate (approximately 2,400 Indigenous persons per 100,000 adult Indigenous population) followed by New South Wales (approximately 2,100). Nationally, the Indigenous rate of imprisonment was approximately 15 times that of the non-Indigenous population.

11.31 INDIGENOUS IMPRISONMENT - 30 June 2002

no.
rate(a)
ratio(b)

New South Wales(c)(d)
1,503
2,146.2
15.4
Victoria
160
1,109.6
12.5
Queensland
1,183
1,733.5
13.5
South Australia
243
1,703.1
19.1
Western Australia
872
2,413.9
18.0
Tasmania
61
621.6
6.0
Northern Territory
459
1,340.0
7.0
ACT in ACT
13
. .
. .
ACT in NSW(c)
12
. .
. .
ACT total(d)
25
1,133.8
13.2
Australia(e)
4,494
1,806.3
15.2

(a) Rate of Indigenous prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population.
(b) Ratio of Indigenous to non-Indigenous rates of imprisonment.
(c) The majority of full-time prisoners sentenced in the ACT are held in NSW prisons and are included in the counts for NSW.
(d) ACT prisoners who were held in NSW prisons have been excluded from the NSW rate and included in the ACT rate.
(e) ACT in NSW figures are a subset of the NSW figures and are not separately counted in the Australian totals.
Source: Prisoners in Australia, 2002 (4517.0).

While the highest Indigenous imprisonment rate of approximately 2,400 prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population was recorded in Western Australia, this was well below the 3,000 prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population recorded a year earlier in that state. During 2002, the following factors in Western Australia impacted on the prisoner population: 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 impact of these factors was proportionally greater on the number of Indigenous prisoners who tend to be convicted of offences that attract shorter sentences.

The 20% decrease in Western Australia, along with a 1% decrease in the Northern Territory, offset increases in all other states, resulting in a slight overall (1%) decrease in the national Indigenous imprisonment rate (graph 11.32).

Graph - 11.32 Indigenous imprisonment rates


10-year comparison

In 1992, 14% of all male prisoners were Indigenous and 18% of all female prisoners were Indigenous. By 2002 this proportion had risen to 20% for Indigenous males and 25% for Indigenous females (graph 11.33), even though Indigenous persons were estimated to comprise just over 2% of the total Australian population in 2002.

Over the 10 years to 2002, the increase in the proportion of prisoners who are Indigenous was mainly influenced by increases in New South Wales (from 9% in 1992 to 17% in 2002) and Queensland (from 18% in 1992 to 25% in 2002).

Graph - 11.33 Prisoners who are Indigenous


Age and sex

The age profile for Indigenous prisoners is younger than that for the overall prisoner population, with the median age for Indigenous prisoners of 29 years being 2 years lower than the 31 years for all prisoners (graph 11.34). Indigenous male prisoners outnumber Indigenous female prisoners by about 11 to 1 (4,127 compared with 367). Nearly 6% of all Indigenous males aged 25-29 years were in prison at 30 June 2002, compared with 0.6% of all males aged 25-29 years. Nearly 0.6% of all Indigenous females aged 25-29 years were in prison at 30 June 2002, compared with 0.05% of all females aged 25-29 years (table 11.35).

Graph - 11.34 Imprisonment rates, By age group - 30 June 2002


11.35 INDIGENOUS PRISONERS, By age and sex - 30 June 2002

Males
Females
Persons



Age group (years)
no.
%
rate(a)
no.
%
rate(a)
no.
%
rate(a)

Under 18
15
0.4
325.0
-
-
-
15
0.3
165.1
18
76
1.8
1,608.5
8
2.2
175.2
84
1.9
904.2
19
150
3.6
3,211.3
17
4.6
373.8
167
3.7
1,811.5
20-24
1,041
25.2
5,313.7
94
25.6
488.7
1,135
25.3
2,923.2
25-29
976
23.6
5,610.2
101
27.5
559.9
1,077
24.0
3,039.4
30-34
799
19.4
4,983.2
59
16.1
334.8
858
19.1
2,549.1
35-39
560
13.6
4,177.2
43
11.7
285.0
603
13.4
2,116.1
40-44
286
6.9
2,536.1
27
7.4
212.1
313
7.0
1,303.7
45-49
123
3.0
1,354.9
13
3.5
129.6
136
3.0
711.7
50-54
61
1.5
923.7
4
1.1
53.7
65
1.4
462.5
55-59
23
0.6
485.1
1
0.3
19.5
24
0.5
243.3
60-64
7
0.2
225.0
-
-
-
7
0.2
104.5
65 and over
10
0.2
214.0
-
-
-
10
0.2
90.4
Total
4,127
100.0
3,441.4
367
100.0
284.8
4,494
100.0
1,806.3

(a) Rate of Indigenous prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population.
Source: Prisoners in Australia, 2002 (4517.0).

Most serious offence

The most serious offence is defined as the offence for which prisoners have received the longest sentence. Of the 3,617 Indigenous sentenced prisoners, 24% had a most serious offence of assault, twice the proportion for the overall sentenced prisoner population. In contrast, of 1,840 prisoners sentenced with a most serious offence relating to illicit drug offences, only 2% were Indigenous (graph 11.36).

Graph - 11.36 Sentenced prisoners, By selected most serious offence - 30 June 2002


Sentence length

Indigenous prisoners are more likely to be serving shorter sentences than the overall prison population, with 38% of Indigenous prisoners expected to serve less than one year, compared with 29% of all prisoners. The mean expected time to serve for Indigenous prisoners was 2.9 years in 2002, compared with 3.5 years for all prisoners (graph 11.37).

Graph - 11.37 Sentenced prisoners, By expected time to serve - 30 June 2002


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