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The National Prisoner Census, conducted annually on the night of 30 June, counts all persons who are in the legal custody of adult corrective services, including periodic detainees in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. 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 persons serving short sentences for less serious offences.
There were 21,961 male prisoners at 30 June 2003, comprising 93% of the total prisoner population (table 11.29). The median age of prisoners was 32 years for males and 31 years for females. The majority of prisoners were young adult males, with 55% (12,841) of all prisoners being males aged 20-34 years (graph 11.30).
There were 4,818 Indigenous prisoners (21% of the prisoner population) on 30 June 2003. Over the past decade, Indigenous prisoners have accounted for an increasing proportion of the total prisoner population (graph 11.31).
Unsentenced prisoners include unconvicted prisoners awaiting a court hearing or trial and convicted prisoners awaiting sentencing. At 30 June 2003, one in five (20%) of the total prisoner population were unsentenced prisoners. Over the past 10 years, unsentenced prisoners have accounted for an increasing number and proportion of the total prisoner population. The proportion of prisoners who were unsentenced increased from 12% in 1993 to 21% in 2003 (graph 11.32).