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4500.0 - Crime and Justice News, Jul 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/07/2009   
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CORRECTIONS


PRISONERS IN AUSTRALIA

More than half of prisoners in Australia are repeat offenders

The latest issue of Prisoners in Australia reported that over half (55% of 15,200) of all prisoners have served a sentence in an adult prison prior to their current period of incarceration.

As at 30 June 2008, there were 27,615 prisoners (sentenced and unsentenced) in Australian prisons, an increase of 1% (391 prisoners) since 30 June 2007. This equated to an imprisonment rate of 169 prisoners per 100,000 adults in Australia, unchanged from 2007.

The largest proportional increases in the prisoner population were recorded for sexual assault offences (10%), followed by illicit drugs (6%).

Prisoners were sentenced to an average prison term of 4.9 years, however the average expected time to serve (the earliest date of release, taking into account the type of sentence, good behaviour, time already served, etc) was 3.5 years. Of all sentenced prisoners, 5% were serving a life sentence or other indeterminate sentence.

The most serious offence/charge category of acts intended to cause injury accounted for the highest proportion of all prisoners (18% or 5,008).

Of the total prisoner population, 7% (1,957) were female, almost 80% (22,076) were born in Australia and 24% (6,706) were Indigenous. Indigenous people were 13 times more likely to be in prison than non-Indigenous people. However, their average sentence length was less than non-Indigenous prisoners (3.7 years compared with 5.4 years). Over 73% (20,227) of the total prisoner population was located in New South Wales (10,510), Queensland (5,544) and Victoria (4,223).

The total prisoner population increased by 1% (from 27,224 prisoners at 30 June 2007 to 27,615 at 30 June 2008). Between the 2007 and 2008 Prisoner Census dates:

  • male prisoners increased by 2% (418) whilst female prisoners decreased by 1% (27);
  • Indigenous prisoners increased by 1% (76);
  • sentenced prisoners increased by 1% (147) and unsentenced prisoners increased by 4% (244).
Change in prisoner numbers, between 30 June 2007 and 30 June 2008
Graph: Change in prisoner numbers, between 30 June 2007 and 30 June 2008



CORRECTIVE SERVICES - DECEMBER QUARTER 2008

There were 83,171 persons under the authority of corrective services agencies (excluding those in period detention) based on the first day of the month averages during the December quarter 2008.


Persons in Custody

During the December quarter 2008, the average daily number of full-time prisoners in Australia was 27,308 persons. This was an increase of less than 1% from the September quarter 2008, and 4% from the December quarter 2007.

Of the average daily number of full-time prisoners in Australia, 25,355 (93%) were male and 1,953 (7%) were female. The average daily imprisonment rate for males was 313 prisoners per 100,000 adult male population, while for females it was 23 prisoners per 100,000 adult female population. Men were almost 14 times more likely to be in prison than females.

The average daily number of full-time Indigenous adult prisoners in Australia in the December quarter 2008 was 6,758, comprising 6,202 (92%) males and 556 (8%) females. Over 75% of the total Indigenous prisoner population was located in New South Wales (2,080), Western Australia (1,663) and Queensland (1,456).

In the December quarter 2008, there were 696 federal prisoners in Australia, an increase of less than 1% from the December quarter 2007. More than half (409) of the federal prisoners were sentenced in New South Wales.


Persons Under Community-based Supervision

In the December quarter 2008, there were 55,806 persons in community-based corrections in Australia, an increase of 1% (654 persons) from the September quarter 2008, and an increase of 4% (1983 persons) from the December quarter 2007.

Of the average number of persons in community-based corrections in Australia, 45,579 (82%) were male and 10,142 (18%) were female.

About the publications:

The Prisoners in Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 4517.0) publication presents national information on persons who were in custody and community based correction as of 30 June. These statistics are derived from information collected by the ABS from corrective services agencies in each state and territory. This collection provides a profile of the legal status, sentence details and demographic characteristics of Australian adult prisoners. Indigenous data is available for persons in custody, while experimental data on Indigenous persons in community-based corrections are also included in the Appendix. Complementary information is available in the Australian Bureau of Statistics quarterly publication, Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0).

The Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0) publication presents information on persons in custody and community-based corrections. The statistics are derived from quarterly information provided to the ABS from administrative records held by corrective services agencies in each state and territory, and from the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department for details on federal prisoners. Statistics are presented by open and secure custody and periodic detention, for all prisoners. Information is also provided for each state and territory on: prisoner numbers and imprisonment rates by type of custody; prisoner numbers by legal status; the number of sentenced receptions into custody; the number of federal prisoners; and the numbers and rates of persons serving community-based corrections orders. Experimental data on the Indigenous status of persons in community-based corrections are also included in the Appendix.


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