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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Crime and justice

PEOPLE IN CUSTODY

ADULT PRISONERS

The annual National Prisoner Census, conducted on the night of 30 June, counts all people held in Australian prisons who 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 2010, there were 29,700 prisoners (sentenced and unsentenced) in Australian adult prisons. This represented an imprisonment rate of 170 prisoners per 100,000 adult population. Of the total prisoner population, 92% (27,472) were men and 8% (2,228) were women.

Most (55% or 16,204) 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 21% (6,367) of the total prisoner population.

The single category of offence that accounted for the largest proportion of adult prisoners was Acts intended to cause injury (20% or 5,805 prisoners).

There were 7,584 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners at 30 June 2010, comprising 26% of the total prisoner population. The age-standardised rate of imprisonment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners was 1,892 per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 14 times more than the non-Indigenous rate (134 per 100,000 adult non-Indigenous people) (table 13.23).


13.23 ADULT PRISONERS, Selected characteristics by most serious offence/charge—30 June 2010

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

All prisoners(b)
no.
2 811
5 805
3 712
2 881
3 376
3 233
7 882
29 700
Males
no.
2 575
5 402
3 663
2 743
3 198
2 848
7 043
27 472
Females
no.
236
403
49
138
178
385
839
2 228
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
no.
460
2 496
792
659
1125
130
1 922
7 584
Non-Indigenous
no.
2 333
3 275
2 889
2 190
2 237
3 020
5 883
21 827
Unknown
no.
18
34
31
32
14
83
77
289
Median age
Males
years
38.7
30.5
43.0
28.7
30.3
37.4
33.0
33.4
Females
years
39.2
32.4
41.0
29.3
30.8
38.7
35.0
34.6
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
years
35.9
30.4
36.6
27.7
27.4
34.1
30.9
30.6
Non-Indigenous
years
39.2
30.9
44.8
29.1
31.6
37.8
33.9
34.7
Sentenced
no.
2 296
3 970
3 144
2 295
2 727
2 386
6 515
23 333
Unsentenced
no.
515
1 835
568
586
649
847
1 367
6 367
Prior imprisonment(c)
no.
1 035
3 616
1 267
1 732
2 556
1 084
4 914
16 204
No prior imprisonment(c)
no.
1 776
2 181
2 440
1 148
820
2 149
2 946
13 460

(a) Includes Australian Standard Offence Classification Divisions (ASOC) 2008, 04, 05, 08, 09 and 11–16.
(b) Includes prisoners for whom prior imprisonment is unknown.
(c) Refers to prior imprisonment under sentence.
Source: Prisoners in Australia (4517.0).


The median age of for male prisoners was 33 years, and 35 years for female prisoners.

The 20–29 year age group had the highest proportion of male prisoners (35% or 9,560 men), while the corresponding age group for women was 30–39 years (36% or 796 women) (graph 13.24).

Graph 13.24 Adult Prisoners - 30 June 2010



Most serious offence

At 30 June 2010, seven offence types accounted for 82% of sentenced prisoners: Acts intended to cause injury (17%), Sexual assault (13%), Unlawful entry with intent (12%), Homicide, Illicit drug offences, Robbery and extortion, and Offences against justice procedures (all 10%) (table 13.25).


13.25 SENTENCED PRISONERS, By most serious offence–30 June 2010
Males
Females
Persons

Homicide and related offences
2 112
184
2 296
Acts intended to cause injury
3 717
253
3 970
Sexual assault and related offences
3 102
42
3 144
Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons
497
44
541
Abduction, harassment and other offences against the person
195
11
206
Robbery, extortion and related offences
2 188
107
2 295
Unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter
2 590
137
2 727
Theft and related offences
837
160
997
Fraud, deception and related offences
489
211
700
Illicit drug offences
2 092
294
2 386
Prohibited and regulated weapons and explosives offences
138
138
Property damage and environmental pollution
224
19
243
Public order offences
156
12
168
Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences
1 060
63
1 123
Offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations
2 078
178
2 256
Miscellaneous offences
108
8
116
Unknown
22
3
25
Total
21 605
1 726
23 331

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

There were notable differences in some of the most serious offence types for which men and women were imprisoned. Though similar proportions of male and female prisoners had Homicide as their most serious offence (10% and 11% respectively), the proportion of male prisoners was higher than that for women prisoners for Sexual assault (14% of male prisoners, 2% of female prisoners) and Robbery and extortion (10% of male prisoners, 6% of female prisoners). There were higher proportions of women prisoners than male prisoners for the following offence types: Fraud and deception (12% of women prisoners, 2% of male prisoners); and Illicit drug offences (17% of women prisoners, 10% of male prisoners) (table 13.25 and graph 13.26). However, it should be noted that there were more sentenced men than sentenced women for all offence categories.

Graph 13.26 SENTENCED PRISONERS, By selected most serious offence(a)-30June 2010



Prisoner aggregate 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 2010, the average aggregate sentence length for all prisoners sentenced to a specific term was nearly 5 years (59 months), while the average expected time to serve was 42.7 months. 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).

Graph 13.27 SENTENCED PRISONERS, By average sentence length(a)(b) - 30 June 2010



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 Western Australia and Northern Territory, in 2009–10, 5,017 young people were held in juvenile detention. Most detainees (84%) were male. Just over a third of the young detainee population was identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (36%). Note that a young person may have been in custody more than once during the reference period (table 13.28).


13.28 YOUNG PERSONS IN DETENTION, By combined selected states and territories—2009–10
Young persons in detention(a)
no.

All young people
5 017
Males
4 227
Females
784
Indigenous status
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
1 787
Non-Indigenous
3 124
Unknown
106
Sentence status(b)
Sentenced
1 457
Unsentenced
4 432
Both sentenced and unsentenced
872

(a) Western Australia and the Northern Territory did not supply data for 2009–10.
(b) Number of sentenced and unsentenced young people will not sum to total as some young people would have been both unsentenced and sentenced during the year.
Source: AIHW, Juvenile justice in Australia 2009–10, Juvenile justice series no. 8. JUV8.

 

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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.


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