4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/12/2007   
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December 13, 2007
Embargoed: 11.30 am (AEDT)
Prisoner numbers up on last year

Adult prisoner numbers increased by 1,400 (6%) over the past year to June 2007, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Based on current figures, a total of 27,200 prisoners are currently in our jails - an imprisonment rate of 169 prisoners per 100,000 adult population.

Over half (57%) of all prisoners had served a sentence in an adult prison prior to the current episode. Nearly two-thirds of prisoners (62% or 7,000), sentenced in the 12 months prior to June 2007, had previously been in prison.

The largest proportion of prisoners were sentenced for acts intended to cause injury (16%), followed by sexual assault (13%).

Prisoners on average were sentenced to 4.8 years, however the average expected time to serve (the earliest date of release) was 3.4 years. For the offence of acts intended to cause injury, prisoners were sentenced to an average of 3 years, but served an average of 2.1 years for this offence.

Nearly a quarter (22%) of all prisoners were on remand; an increase of 9% from June 2006. The average time spent on remand by prisoners was five months.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of prisoners were Indigenous. Indigenous prisoners were 13 times more likely to be in prison than non-Indigenous prisoners. However, their average sentence length was less than non-Indigenous prisoners (3.6 years compared with 5.3 years).

Other findings at 30 June 2007 were:
  • The average age of all prisoners was 35 years.
  • Over three-quarters of prisoners (79%) were born in Australia.
  • The imprisonment rate for women increased from 15 to 24 prisoners per 100,000 adult women over the 10 years to June 2007.
  • South Australia had the highest average sentence length for all prisoners at 6.1 years.

Further details are available in Prisoners in Australia (cat. no. 4517.0).

Media note: Sexual assault includes related offences. The average sentence and expected time to serve excludes prisoners with indeterminate, life and periodic detention sentences.