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4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2009 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/12/2009   
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MEDIA RELEASE
December 10, 2009
Embargoed: 11.30 am (AEDT)
97/2009

Prisoner numbers rise by 6%: ABS

The number of adults in Australian prisons increased by 6% (1,700 prisoners) over the year to 30 June 2009, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

At 30 June 2009, a total of 29,300 prisoners were held in corrective services adult custody, an imprisonment rate of 175 prisoners per 100,000 adults in Australia.

Western Australia and the Northern Territory had the highest proportional increases in prisoner numbers (17% and 11% increase in the number of prisoners respectively) and continued to have the highest imprisonment rates (260 and 660 prisoners per 100,000 adults respectively).

Over half (56% or 16,270) of all prisoners have served a sentence in an adult prison prior to their current incarceration.

Prisoners were sentenced to an average prison term of 4.8 years, with an average expected time to serve (the earliest date of release taking into account the type of sentence, good behaviour, time already served, etc) of 3.5 years.

The rate of Indigenous imprisonment continued to rise; the rate was 14 times higher for Indigenous prisoners than non-Indigenous prisoners. However, their average sentence length was less than non-Indigenous prisoners (3.6 years compared to 5.3 years).

Other findings at 30 June 2009 were:
  • 8 in 10 prisoners were born in Australia
  • the most serious offence or charge for nearly 1 in 5 prisoners in custody was acts intending to cause injury (5,600 prisoners)
  • the most serious offence or charge for older prisoners (aged 55+) was sexual assault and related offences
  • between 1999 and 2009, the number of women prisoners increased by 57% compared with a 35% increase in male prisoners for this same period.

Further details are available in Prisoners in Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 4517.0), available free of charge from the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au>.

Media Notes
  • The average sentence length excludes prisoners with indeterminate, life with a minimum and periodic detention sentences
  • When reporting on ABS statistics please cite Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) as the source.

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