4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2005  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/12/2005   
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December 15, 2005
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Over 25,000 prisoners in Australia

There were 25,400 people in adult prisons in Australia at 30 June 2005, an increase of 5% from the previous year, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

This represented an imprisonment rate of 163 prisoners per 100,000 adult population.

The most common offences for sentenced prisoners were: acts intended to cause injury (15%); unlawful entry with intent (13%); sexual assault and related offences (12%); robbery, extortion and related offences (11%); homicide and related offences (10%); and illicit drug offences (10%).

The majority (60% or 15,300) of prisoners in custody had served a sentence in an adult prison prior to the current episode.

Over half (51% or 10,400) of sentenced prisoners were sentenced in the 12 months preceding 30 June 2005. Of these prisoners two-thirds (67%) had served a sentence in an adult prison prior to the current episode being served. Sentenced prisoners had an average sentence length of 3 years, while the average expected time to serve was 23 months.

Indigenous prisoners comprised 22% (5,700) of the total population, an increase of 12% from 30 June 2004. This was the largest annual increase since 1999.

Other characteristics at 30 June 2005 were:
  • Men were almost 14 times more likely to be in prison than women (23,600 men and 1,700 women)
  • The number of male prisoners increased by 5% (or 1,100 prisoners) from 30 June 2004 while the number of female prisoners increased by 4% (62 prisoners)
  • The median age of all prisoners was 32 years
  • The majority (71%) of prisoners were aged between 20 and 39 years
  • There were 5,100 unsentenced prisoners on remand, an increase of 4% from 30 June 2004
  • Unsentenced prisoners in custody were on remand for an average of 2.8 months.

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

Media note: The average sentence length excludes prisoners with indeterminate, life and periodic detention sentences.