4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2013 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/03/2015   
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SENTENCED PRISONERS

There were 23,335 sentenced prisoners in Australian prisons at 30 June 2013, an increase of 4% (825 sentenced prisoners) from 30 June 2012 (22,510). (Table 9)

Most serious offence

Seven offences accounted for 84% of all sentenced prisoners:
  • acts intended to cause injury (17%)
  • sexual assault (13%)
  • unlawful entry with intent (12%)
  • illicit drug offences (11%)
  • offences against justice procedures (11%)
  • homicide (10%)
  • robbery and extortion (10%). (Table 9)

Sex

The number of sentenced males in prison increased by 3% (713) from 30 June 2012, while sentenced females increased by 7% (113) in the same period.

At 30 June 2013, the most serious offence with the highest proportion of sentenced male prisoners was acts intended to cause injury (17%), followed by sexual assault (14%). The most serious offence with the highest proportion of female prisoners was illicit drugs (18%), followed by acts intended to cause injury (15%). (Table 9)

Aggregate sentence length

Of all sentenced prisoners, 5% (1,090) were serving a life term or other indeterminate sentence. Just over one quarter (27% or 6,244) of sentenced prisoners had an aggregate sentence length imposed ranging from two years to less than five years, while 21% (4,905) had an aggregate sentence length of between five years and under 10 years. Approximately 35% (8,130) of prisoners had an aggregate sentence length of less than two years. Periodic detainees accounted for less than 1% (55) of all sentenced prisoners.

Excluding prisoners with indeterminate and periodic detention sentences, the median aggregate sentence length for sentenced prisoners was three years (36 months) in 2013, a decrease from three years and two months (38 months) in 2012. For information about interpreting mean and median sentence length based on a census 'snapshot' see Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 41-43.

The longest median aggregate sentence lengths at 30 June 2013 were for homicide (15 years or 180 months), sexual assault (7 years or 84 months) and illicit drug offences (5.3 years or 64 months). (Table 10)

Expected time to serve

Expected time to serve refers to the time between date of reception for the current episode and earliest date of release. Almost one quarter (24%) of sentenced prisoners (5,577) had an expected time to serve between two and less than five years, while 21% of prisoners (4,788) had an expected time to serve between one and under two years.

Excluding prisoners with indeterminate, life without a minimum, and periodic detention sentences, the median expected time to serve for sentenced prisoners at 30 June 2013 was 1.8 years (22 months).

The median expected time to serve was highest for the offence of homicide (13 years or 156 months), followed by sexual assault (4.9 years or 58 months). (Table 10)

Graph Image for SENTENCED PRISONERS, median sentence length by selected most serious offence(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Prisoners with indeterminate, life with a minimum and periodic detention sentences are excluded from aggregate sentence determinations. For expected time to serve, prisoners with indeterminate and periodic detention sentences are excluded. Life with a miniumum is included.

Source(s): Prisoners in Australia