Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2009–10  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/06/2010   
   Page tools: Print Print Page RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Crime and justice >> People in custody

PEOPLE IN CUSTODY

Adult prisoners

The annual National Prisoner Census, conducted on the night of 30 June, counts all people held in Australian prisons that are in the legal custody of adult corrective services, including periodic detainees in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, but excluding persons held in juvenile institutions, psychiatric custody and police custody. At any given point in time, most prisoners are serving long sentences for relatively serious offences, but the flow of offenders in and out of prisons consists primarily of people serving short sentences for less serious offences.

At 30 June 2008, there were 27,615 prisoners (sentenced and unsentenced) in Australian adult prisons. This represented an imprisonment rate of 169 prisoners per 100,000 adult population. Of the total prisoner population, 93% (25,658) were men and 7% (1,957) were women.

Most (55% or 15,154) prisoners had served time in an adult prison prior to the current episode.

Unsentenced prisoners include prisoners awaiting a court hearing or trial and convicted prisoners awaiting sentencing. Unsentenced adult prisoners comprised 23% (6,340) of the total prisoner population.

Acts intended to cause injury was the most serious offence/charge which accounted for the largest proportion of adult prisoners (18% or 5,008 prisoners).

There were 6,706 Indigenous prisoners at 30 June 2008, comprising 24% of the total prisoner population. The age-standardised Indigenous imprisonment rate was 1,769 prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population, 13 times more than the non-Indigenous rate (133 prisoners per 100,000 adult non-Indigenous population) (table 13.23).

The median age of male prisoners was 33 years, and 34 years for female prisoners.

13.23 ADULT PRISONERS, Selected characteristics by most serious offence/charge - 30 June 2008

Homicide and related offences
Acts intended to cause injury
Sexual assault and related offences
Robbery, extortion and related offences
Unlawful entry with intent
Illicit drug offences
Other offences(a)
Total(a)

All prisoners no.
2 712
5 008
3 411
2 682
3 138
2 885
7 779
27 615
Males no.
2 499
4 673
3 381
2 550
2 951
2 586
7 018
25 658
Females no.
213
335
30
132
187
299
761
1 957
Indigenous no.
429
2 107
715
597
927
112
1 819
6 706
Non-Indigenous no.
2 263
2 856
2 682
2 063
2 202
2 694
5 901
20 661
Unknown no.
20
45
14
22
9
79
59
248
Median age
Males years
38
30
43
29
30
37
33
33
Females years
37
31
42
28
29
37
35
34
Indigenous years
35
30
36
27
27
35
30
30
Non-Indigenous years
39
31
45
29
31
37
34
35
Sentenced no.
2 220
3 357
2 880
1 988
2 404
2 076
6 350
21 275
Unsentenced no.
492
1 651
531
694
734
809
1 429
6 340
Prior imprisonment(b) no.
1 063
3 089
1 186
1 617
2 337
1 003
4 859
15 154
No prior imprisonment(b) no.
1 649
1 919
2 225
1 065
801
1 882
2 920
12 461

(a) Includes Australian Standard Offence Classification Divisions 04, 05, 08, 09 and 11 to 16.
(b) Refers to prior imprisonment under sentence.
Source: ABS Prisoners in Australia (4517.0).


The 20-29 year age group had the highest proportion of male prisoners (35% or 8,903 men), while the corresponding age group for women was 30-39 years (35% or 676 women) (graph 13.24).

13.24 Adult Prisoners - 30 June 2008
Graph: 13.24 Adult Prisoners—30 June 2008



Most serious offence

At 30 June 2008, six offence types accounted for 71% of adult sentenced prisoners: acts intended to cause injury (16%); sexual assault and related offences (14%); unlawful entry with intent (11%); homicide and related offences; illicit drug and related offences; and offences against justice procedures (all 10%) (table 13.25).

13.25 SENTENCED PRISONERS, By most serious offence - 30 June 2008

Males
Females
Persons

Homicide and related offences
2 062
158
2 220
Acts intended to cause injury
3 150
207
3 357
Sexual assault and related offences
2 857
23
2 880
Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons
368
15
383
Abduction and related offences
143
11
154
Robbery, extortion and related offences
1 907
81
1 988
Unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter
2 281
123
2 404
Theft and related offences
737
118
855
Deception and related offences
489
172
661
Illicit drug offences
1 870
206
2 076
Weapons and explosives offences
140
5
145
Property damage and environmental pollution
225
18
243
Public order offences
239
19
258
Road traffic and motor vehicle regulatory offences
1 259
65
1 324
Offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations
1 898
168
2 066
Miscellaneous offences
236
21
257
Unknown
4
-
4
Total
19 865
1 410
21 275

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
Source: ABS Prisoners in Australia (4517.0).


There were notable differences in some most serious offence types for which men and women were imprisoned. Though similar proportions of male and female prisoners had homicide and related offences as their most serious offence (10% and 11% respectively), the proportion of male prisoners was higher than that for women prisoners for sexual assault and related offences (14% of male prisoners, 2% of female prisoners) and robbery, extortion and related offences (10% of male prisoners, 6% of female prisoners). There were higher proportions of women prisoners than male prisoners for the following offence types: deception and related offences (12% of women prisoners, 3% of male prisoners); and illicit drug offences (15% of women prisoners, 9% of male prisoners) (graph 13.26).

13.26 SENTENCED PRISONERS, By selected most serious offence - 30 June 2008
Graph: 13.26 SENTENCED PRISONERS, By selected most serious^offence—30 June 2008



Sentence length

Aggregate length of sentence is derived by taking into account the longest period for which a convicted prisoner may be detained as a result of a sentence or sentences imposed by a criminal court for an offence or multiple offences in a current episode.

At 30 June 2008, the average aggregate sentence length for all adult prisoners sentenced to a specific term was 59.1 months or nearly 5 years, while the average expected time to serve was 42.3 months or 3.5 years. The average aggregate sentence length excludes prisoners who receive indeterminate, life with a minimum, or periodic detention sentences, whilst the expected time to serve takes into account the earliest date of release for sentenced prisoners (graph 13.27).

13.27 SENTENCED PRISONERS, By average sentence length(a) - 30 June 2008
Graph: 13.27 SENTENCED PRISONERS, By average sentence^length(a)—30 June 2008



Young people in detention

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) collects information from each state and territory on behalf of the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators about the numbers and characteristics of young people under the supervision of juvenile justice agencies.

Excluding New South Wales, in 2007-08, 3,378 young people were held in juvenile detention. Most detainees (84%) were male. Just under half of the young detainee population were identified as Indigenous. Note, a young person may have been in custody more than once during the reference period (table 13.28).

13.28 YOUNG PERSONS IN DETENTION(a)(b), By combined selected states and territories(b) - 2007-08

no.

All young people
3 378
Males
2 831
Females
547
Indigenous
1 591
Non-Indigenous
1 743
Unknown
44
Sentenced
986
Unsentenced
2 939
Both sentenced and unsentenced
85

(a) As young people may have appeared more than once during the financial year, components may not sum to totals.
(b) Data excludes New South Wales, as data were not available.
Source: AIHW (2009) Juvenile Justice in Australia, 2007-08. Cat. No. JUV5.







Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.