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There were 23,555 prisoners in Australia on 30 June 2003, an increase of 5% on the 22,492 prisoners at 30 June 2002. The imprisonment rate of 153 prisoners per 100,000 adult population represents a 3% increase on the rate of 148 prisoners per 100,000 adult population in 2002. The inclusion of work outreach camps and community custody centres in Queensland within the scope of the Prisoner Census in 2003 has partly contributed to this increase in prisoner numbers and the imprisonment rate. (See paragraph 13 of the Explanatory Notes for further information).
Over the past 10 years, the prisoner population has increased by nearly 50%. This increase has exceeded the 15% growth in the Australian adult population, resulting in the adult imprisonment rate increasing from 119 to 153 prisoners per 100,000 adult population between 1993 and 2003.
(a) Rate per 100,000 adult population.
(b) The inclusion of work outreach camps and community custody centres in Queensland has contributed to an increase in the rate between 2002 and 2003.
IMPRISONMENT RATES(a)(b), 1995 and 2003
(a) Rates per 100,000 adult population at 30 June 1995 and 30 June 2003.
(b) Imprisonment rates by states and territories are not available on a comparable basis prior to 1995.
There were 4,818 Indigenous prisoners in Australia (20% of the prisoner population) at 30 June 2003. Over the past decade, Indigenous prisoners have accounted for an increasing proportion of the total prisoner population. The proportion of prisoners who were Indigenous has risen from 15% in 1993 to 20% in 2003.
Care should be taken when referring to Indigenous imprisonment rates as at 30 June 2003, as the denominator is benchmarked on the 1996 census. The propensity to identify as Indigenous increased in the 2001 census but population estimates for 2003 based on this most recent census are not yet available (see Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 27–30 for further information).
With an imprisonment rate of 1,888 prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population (a 5% increase on the 2002 rate), Indigenous persons were 16 times more likely than non-Indigenous persons to be in prison (15 times more likely in 2002). The highest Indigenous imprisonment rate of 2,744 prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population was recorded in Western Australia. This is 14% higher than the 2002 rate of 2,414 Indigenous prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population, and partly reverses the 20% decrease recorded between 2001 and 2002 (see Explanatory Notes, paragraph 72). While the Northern Territory recorded the largest proportional increase in the Indigenous imprisonment rate between 2002 and 2003 (21%), at 1,626 Indigenous prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous population, its rate remains below the national average.
INDIGENOUS IMPRISONMENT RATES(a)
(a) Rate per 100,000 adult indigenous population.
AGE AND SEX
Nearly 55% of all prisoners were males aged between 20 and 34 years. The 25–29 year age group had the highest imprisonment rates for both males and females, with 659 male prisoners per 100,000 adult males (a 3% increase on the 2002 rate), and 53 female prisoners per 100,000 adult females (a 5% increase on the 2002 rate). Between 1993 and 2003, the female prisoner population has increased by 110%, in comparison to a 45% increase in the male prisoner population.
TABLE 1. PRISONERS, By States and Territories
– nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) The majority of full-time prisoners sentenced in the ACT are held in NSW prisons. See Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 14-15.
(b) The ACT in NSW figures are a subset of the NSW figures and are not separately counted in the Australian totals. See Explanatory Notes, paragraph 15.
TABLE 2. IMPRISONMENT RATES(a), By States and Territories
(a) Rate per 100,000 adult population. See Explanatory Notes, paragraphs 22-30.
(b) Data for NSW excludes ACT prisoners held in NSW prisons.
(c)Data for ACT includes ACT prisoners held in ACT as well as ACT prisoners held in NSW.
TABLE 3. PRISONER CHARACTERISTICS, 1993-2003
(b) Prior to 1997, the Australian total excludes ACT periodic detainees.
Source: 1993: Australian Institute of Criminology, Australian Prisoners. 1994-2003: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0).
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