4517.0 - Prisoners in Australia, 2006  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/12/2006   
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December 14, 2006
Embargoed: 11:30am (AEDT)

Prisoner numbers increase by 42% in last 10 years: ABS

Adult prisoner numbers have increased by (42%) over the last decade, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

There were 25,800 people in Australian adult prisons at June 2006 - an increase of 2% over the previous year.

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

The most prevalent offences for sentenced prisoners were: 'acts intended to cause injury, including assault' (15%); 'sexual assault and unlawful entry with intent' (both 12%); 'homicide'; 'robbery and extortion'; and 'illicit drug offences' (all 10%).

The proportion of sentenced prisoners with a most serious offence of 'robbery and extortion' decreased from 14% in 2001 to 10% in 2006. 'Acts intended to cause injury' increased over this same period (from 12% in 2001 to 15% in 2006).

Half (10,200) of the sentenced prisoner population were sentenced in the 12 months preceding 30 June 2006. Sentenced prisoners had an average sentence length of 4.9 years, while the average expected time to serve was 3.5 years.

Other facts at 30 June 2006 were:
  • There were 13 times more men in prison than women (24,000 men and 1,800 women)
  • Indigenous prisoners comprised 24% (6,100) of the total prisoner population
  • The number of male prisoners increased by 1% (or 350 prisoners) from 30 June 2005 while the number of female prisoners increased by 5% (90)
  • The median age of all prisoners was 33 years
  • The majority (70%) of prisoners were aged between 20 and 39 years
  • There were 5,600 unsentenced prisoners, an increase of 9% from 30 June 2005
  • Unsentenced prisoners in custody were on remand for an average of 4.9 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.