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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
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Contents >> Crime and Justice >> Prisoners in Australia

The annual National Prisoner Census, conducted on the night of 30 June, counts all adult offenders who are held in custody in gazetted Australian prisons, including periodic detainees in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. The Prisoner Census provides a snapshot of the number of persons in prison, and is not representative of the flow of prisoners. The majority of prisoners in the Prisoner Census are serving long sentences for relatively serious offences, but the flow of offenders in and out of prisons consists primarily of persons serving short sentences for relatively minor offences.

Based on the results of Prisoner Censuses, the total prison population in Australia increased by 52% from 14,305 in 1990 to 21,714 in 2000. There were 20,329 male prisoners on 30 June 2000, comprising 94% of the total prisoner population (table 11.21). The average age of prisoners in Australia was 33 years for males and 32 years for females. The majority of prisoners in Australia are young adult males, just over 56% of all prisoners being males aged between 20 and 35 years.


11.21 PRISONERS, By Jurisdiction - 30 June 2000

Sex
NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT in
ACT
ACT in
NSW
Aust.(a)

NUMBER

Males
7,971
2,970
4,224
1,224
2,876
370
620
74
142
20,329
Females
576
183
258
75
248
20
15
10
13
1,385
All prisoners
8,547
3,153
4,482
1,299
3,124
390
635
84
155
21,714

RATE PER 100,000 ADULT POPULATION

Males
325.4
164.3
314.1
214.4
401.9
212.9
838.6
62.9
120.8
280.3
Females
22.9
9.7
18.9
12.6
34.7
10.9
23.2
8.3
10.8
18.6
All prisoners
172.0
85.4
165.5
111.5
218.4
109.1
458.1
35.3
65.2
147.7

(a) Full-time prisoners sentenced in the ACT are held in NSW prisons. The ACT in NSW figures are a subset of the NSW figures and are not separately counted in the Australian totals.

Source: Prisoners in Australia, 2000 (4517.0).

The proportion of prisoners who were unsentenced increased from 13% in 1990 to 17% in 2000. Some of the factors which have influenced the size of the prison population over this period include legislative changes affecting the length of time prisoners spend in prison; the abolition of a sentence-reducing mechanism such as remission; significant court delays leading to an increase in unsentenced prisoners in some jurisdictions; an increase in Australia's population as well as an increase in the amount of recorded crime. Graph 11.22 shows a time series of the rate of adult prisoners per 100,000 adult population. The rate has steadily increased since 1990.




Nationally, the imprisonment rate was 148 per 100,000 adult population at 30 June 2000. The imprisonment rates vary between jurisdictions, with the Northern Territory recording the highest imprisonment rate of 458 per 100,000 adult population (graph 11.23). This was substantially greater than the next highest rates, recorded in Western Australia and New South Wales, of 218 and 172 prisoners per 100,000 adult population respectively.




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