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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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SENTENCED PRISONERS

There were 22,924 sentenced prisoners in Australian prisons at 30 June 2009, an increase of 8% (1,649 sentenced prisoners) from 30 June 2008 (21,275).


Most serious offence

Six offences accounted for 71% of all sentenced prisoners: acts intended to cause injury (17%); sexual assault (13%); unlawful entry with intent (11%); and homicide, illicit drugs, and offences against justice procedures (all 10%).


Sex

The number of sentenced males in prison increased by 1,469 (7%) from 30 June 2008, whilst sentenced females increased by 185 (13%) in the same period. At 30 June 2009, the most serious offence with the highest proportion for sentenced male prisoners was acts intended to cause injury (17%), followed by sexual assault (14%). For sentenced female prisoners the most serious offence with the highest proportion was illicit drugs (16%), followed by acts intended to cause injury (13%).

Sentenced prisoners, selected most serious offence by sex(a)
Graph: Sentenced prisoners, selected most serious offence by sex(a)



Aggregate sentence length

Of all sentenced prisoners, 4% (1,009) were serving a life term or other indeterminate sentence. A quarter (25% or 5,682) of sentenced prisoners had an aggregate sentence length imposed in the range from 2 years to less than 5 years, while 21% (4,773) had an aggregate sentence length of between 5 years and under 10 years. Approximately 34% (7,850) had an aggregate sentence length of less than 2 years. Periodic detainees accounted for 4% (841) of all sentenced prisoners.

Excluding prisoners with indeterminate, life with a minimum and periodic detention sentences, the median aggregate sentence length for sentenced prisoners was unchanged from 2008 at 3 years (36 months). For information about interpreting mean and median sentence lengths based on a census 'snapshot' see Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 71-73.

The longest median aggregate sentence lengths at 30 June 2009 were for homicide (15 years or 180 months), miscellaneous offences (8 years or 96 months) and sexual assault (6.5 years or 78 months).


Expected time to serve

Expected time to serve takes into account the earliest date of release for sentenced prisoners. Over 23% of sentenced prisoners (5,239) had an expected time to serve between 2 and under 5 years, while 20% of prisoners (4,671) had an expected time to serve greater than 5 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 2009 was 1.8 years (21 months), a decrease of less than a month from 2008.

The median expected time to serve was highest for the offence category of homicide (11.5 years or 138 months), followed by miscellaneous offences (5 years or 60 months) and sexual assault (4.5 years or 54 months).

SENTENCED PRISONERS, median sentence length and selected most serious offence(a)(b)
Graph: SENTENCED PRISONERS, median sentence length and selected most serious offence(a)(b)






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