4512.0 - Corrective Services, Australia, Mar 1998  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 09/07/1998   
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  • New ABS publication shows rise in number of prisoners (Media Release)


July 9, 1998
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
New ABS publication shows rise in number of prisoners

Figures released today in a new Australian Bureau of Statistics' publication about corrective services show that for the year ending March 1998, the average number of prisoners in Australia rose by 1,146 (6.7 per cent) to 18,235.

Queensland and Victoria accounted for nearly all of this increase, with smaller increases in Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory, mostly offset by decreases in New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (including ACT prisoners held in NSW prisons).

On a quarterly basis, in the March quarter 1998, the average number of prisoners in Australia was 18,235, an increase of 173 (1.0 per cent) on the December quarter 1997. Queensland and Victoria were the major contributors to this increase, rising by 202 (4.5 per cent) and 37 (1.4 per cent) respectively. The daily average number of prisoners recorded in all other States and Territories remained steady or fell from the December quarter 1997.

About one-third (6,280) of all prisoners in March quarter 1998 were in NSW. Queensland accounted for another 25.8 per cent, with an average of 4,709 prisoners. Victoria and WA contributed 2,688 (14.7 per cent) and 2,239 (12.3 per cent) respectively.

Nationally, the daily average imprisonment rate was 130.2 per 100,000 adult population during the March quarter 1998 compared to 129.0 in the December quarter 1997, and 122.8 in the March quarter 1997. The NT had the highest rate of 452.9 prisoners per 100,000 adult population, substantially greater than the next highest, Queensland and WA with rates of 183.1 and 168.2 prisoners per 100,000 adult population respectively.

Information on Indigenous prisoners is not currently available for NSW. Of the other States and Territories, on 1 March 1998 the highest number of Indigenous persons in prison custody was recorded in Queensland (1,104), followed by WA (766) and the NT (455).

The highest proportion of the persons in prison custody who were Indigenous was recorded in the NT, where 75.1 per cent of all prisoners were Indigenous, followed by WA (34.0 per cent) and Queensland (22.9 per cent).

The highest rates of Indigenous imprisonment were recorded in WA (2,517.3 Indigenous persons per 100,000 adult Indigenous population), Queensland (1,906.6), SA (1,651.1) and the NT (1,523.3). The highest ratio of Indigenous to non-Indigenous rates of imprisonment was also recorded in WA, which had an Indigenous rate of imprisonment 22.1 times the non-Indigenous rate.

Of the average number of prisoners in Australia during the March quarter 1998, 17,268 (94.7 per cent) were males and 967 (5.3 per cent) were females.

There was an average of 13,020 prisoners (71.4 per cent) in secure prison custody in Australia during the March quarter 1998, with the remaining 5,216 prisoners (28.6 per cent) held in open prison custody. The highest proportion of prisoners held in secure prisons was recorded in Victoria (88.2 per cent), followed by SA (86.6 per cent). The State or Territory with the lowest proportion of prisoners in secure prison custody was NSW, with 54.2 per cent.

Corrective Services, Australia, March Quarter 1998 (cat. no. 4512.0) is available from ABS bookshops.