4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2015  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2015   
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11 December 2015
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

Unsentenced prisoners at the highest level in a decade

Unsentenced prisoners now make up more than a quarter of the total Australian prisoner population - the highest proportion since 2005 - according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

William Milne from the ABS said the overall Australian adult prisoner population had increased by 7 per cent (2,345 prisoners) since 30 June 2014, to 36,134 prisoners.

"A large proportion of this increase can be attributed to the number of unsentenced prisoners in custody, which increased by 21 per cent (or 1,685 prisoners) for this period. Unsentenced prisoners are those confined to custody on remand while awaiting the outcome of their trial or awaiting deportation." said Mr Milne.

"The most common charges for unsentenced prisoners were acts intended to cause injury and illicit drug offences, accounting for nearly half (46 per cent) of all unsentenced prisoners."

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous prisoners both increased by 7 per cent, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners accounting for 27 per cent of the total Australian prisoner population.

Other key findings from the 2015 Prisoner Census:
  • Just under three in five prisoners (58 per cent) had served a sentence in an adult prison prior to the current episode.
  • Overseas born prisoners accounted for 18 per cent of all prisoners.
  • The most common offences for both male and female prisoners were acts intended to cause injury (21 per cent and 19 per cent respectively) and illicit drug offences (13 per cent and 18 per cent respectively).

Further information can be found in Prisoners in Australia, 2015 (cat. no. 4517.0).