Footnote(s): (a) Rate per 100,000 adult population.
(b) At 30 June.
Source(s): ABS Prisoners in Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 4517.0)
Although courts may impose various penalties for people convicted of criminal offences (such as fines, community service orders and the like) imprisonment is the most severe social response to crime in Australia.
Changes in the imprisonment rate do not necessarily measure changes in the level of crime or the level of success in apprehending and convicting criminals, although they may be related. Changes in imprisonment rates can reflect changes in community attitudes (played out through the court system), community preferences for the severity of response to crime, or changes in prison capacity.
In June 2009 there were 29,317 adults in prison (representing an imprisonment rate of 175 prisoners per 100,000 adult population) compared to 21,538 prisoners in June 1999 (150 prisoners per 100,000 adult population) (ABS 2009).
The imprisonment rate for men in June 2009 was 13 times the rate for women (329 prisoners per 100,000 male adults versus 25 prisoners per 100,000 female adults). About two thirds (67%) of all prisoners were aged between 20 and 39 years. The median age of prisoners was 33.4 for men and 34.2 for women.
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 (AIHW 2009).
Excluding New South Wales, in 2007-08, 3,378 young people were held in juvenile detention. Most detainees (over 90%) were male. Just under half of the young detainee population identified as being Indigenous. It is important to note that a young person may have been in custody more than once during the reference period (AIHW 2009).
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