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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2003   
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Contents >> Crime and Justice >> Deaths in custody

In 1991 the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which investigated the deaths of 99 Indigenous persons in police or prison custody occurring between January 1980 and May 1989, presented its findings and recommendations. One of the outcomes was the establishment of a National Deaths in Custody Monitoring and Research Program at the Australian Institute of Criminology.

During 2000, 91 people died in all forms of custody in Australia, a 40% increase since 1990. Of the 91 deaths, 17 were of Indigenous persons, making up about one-fifth of all deaths. The largest number of deaths in custody recorded since 1990 was in 1997 (105), while the largest number of Indigenous deaths was in 1995 (21). The majority of deaths (70%) occurred in prison custody, with the remainder while in police custody (27%) or juvenile detention (3%) (table 11.35).


11.35 DEATHS IN CUSTODY

Police
Prison
Juvenile detention
Total




Indigenous
Non-Indigenous
Indigenous
Non-Indigenous
Indigenous
Non-Indigenous
Indigenous
Non-Indigenous
Total

1990
5
26
5
28
-
1
10
55
65
1991
5
26
8
31
-
-
13
57
70
1992
7
24
2
34
-
-
9
58
67
1993
3
28
7
42
-
1
10
71
81
1994
3
24
11
42
-
1
14
67
81
1995
4
22
17
42
-
2
21
66
87
1996
6
23
12
40
-
1
18
64
82
1997
6
23
9
67
-
-
15
90
105
1998
6
19
9
60
1
-
16
79
95
1999
6
20
13
46
-
-
19
66
85
2000
5
20
11
53
1
1
17
74
91
Total
56
255
104
485
2
7
162
747
909

Source: Australian Institute of Criminology, ‘Trends and Issues Paper No. 217', based on data from the National Deaths in Custody database.


For the years 1990-2000, 18% of all deaths in prison custody were of Indigenous prisoners. During this period, the proportion of the prison population who were Indigenous rose from 14% to 20%. In 1995 the crude death rate of Indigenous prisoners was more than twice that of non-Indigenous prisoners (5.7 and 2.4 respectively). However, by 2000 the Indigenous death rate was 2.7, compared with 2.4 per 1,000 for non-Indigenous prisoners (graph 11.36).

Graph - 11.36 Prison custody death rates(a)



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