4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2010 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 09/12/2010   
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9 December 2010
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

Women in prison rise by 5%

Nationally, the number of women held in adult corrective services custody increased by 5% (100 prisoners) over the year to 30 June 2010, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Although men continue to dominate the adult prisoner population in Australia, representing 92% of all prisoners held in corrective services adult custody, female incarceration is increasing at a faster rate than males.

At 30 June 2010, there was a total of 2,200 adult women prisoners in Australia, which represents an increase of 60% over the past decade. In contrast, men in incarceration increased by 35% over the same period.

The most serious offence with the highest proportion of sentenced women prisoners was illicit drugs (17%).

Other findings at 30 June 2010 were:
  • Nationally, a total of 29,700 prisoners were held in corrective services adult custody, representing an imprisonment rate of 170 prisoners per 100,000 adults in Australia. The total number of prisoners increased by 1% (380 prisoners) from 30 June 2009.
  • The Australian Capital Territory had the highest proportional increase in prisoner numbers (38%) followed by Western Australia (8%). Tasmania's prisoners decreased by 9%. The Northern Territory and Western Australia continued to have the highest imprisonment rates (663 and 273 prisoners per 100,000 adults respectively).
  • Just under 60% (11,700) of prisoners sentenced in the last twelve months had previously served a sentence in an adult prison prior to their current incarceration
  • Prisoners were sentenced to an average prison term of 4.9 years, with an average expected time to serve (the earliest date of release taking into account the type of sentence, good behaviour, time already served, etc.) of 3.6 years
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rate was 14 times higher for Indigenous prisoners than non-Indigenous prisoners. However, their average sentence length was less than non-Indigenous prisoners (3.7 years compared to 5.4 years).
  • The most serious offence or charge for nearly 1 in 5 prisoners in custody was acts intending to cause injury (5,800 prisoners).

Further details are available in Prisoners in Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 4517.0).

Media notes:
  • The data excludes people in juvenile detention. The average sentence length excludes prisoners with indeterminate, life with a minimum and periodic detention sentences.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.