This publication presents statistical series about persons either held in adult corrective services custody or who are serving adult community-based orders in Australia. It contains data on the number of:
- persons in custody by sex, Indigenous status, type of custody and legal status;
- prisoner receptions into and prisoner releases from corrective services custody by legal status, Indigenous status and sex;
- federal prisoners;
- persons in community-based corrections by sex and Indigenous status; and
- community-based corrections orders by type of order.
The scope of the statistics in this publication includes all persons remanded or sentenced to adult custodial facilities, or who are serving adult community-based orders in each state and territory in Australia.
Included in the collection are prisoners who were:
- absent on an authorised temporary leave permit except for Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory;
- absent from the correctional facility on a work release permit or program;
- located in secure wards in a hospital or mental health institution outside the correctional facility administered under corrective services departments;
- periodic detainees until 2016; or
- serving post-sentence detention orders.
Excluded from the collection are prisoners who were:
- prisoners who were unlawfully absent from corrective services legal custody, e.g. escapees or prisoners who failed to return from an authorised temporary absence from a correctional facility; or
- prisoners whose legal custody had been transferred to another agency, e.g. police or mental health institutions.
Community-based corrections (CBC) order types included in this collection are:
- Restricted movement, except for Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory where it is not a sentencing option;
- Bail, except for Victoria and Queensland where bail orders are handled by the courts;
- Fine option, except for New South Wales, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory where it is not a sentencing option;
- Community service;
- Sentenced probation; and
- Post-sentence supervision, except for Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory where it is not a sentencing option.
Types of facilities
The types of custodial facilities and programs where prisoners are held vary between the states and territories.
Included in the collection are:
- gazetted prisons in all jurisdictions;
- periodic detention centres in the Australian Capital Territory until 2016;
- work camps in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory;
- cells in court complexes administered by corrective services in New South Wales;
- transitional centres in New South Wales and Victoria;
- police lock-ups under the South Australia Corrective Services department; and
- mental health facilities administered under corrective services departments.
Excluded from the collection are:
- police lockups, police prisons and cells in court complexes not administered and controlled by corrective services;
- immigration detention centres;
- military prisons;
- gazetted police prisons in the Northern Territory;
- mental health facilities administered under health departments; and
- juvenile detention centres, including those under the authority of adult corrective services.
This collection includes counts of persons remanded or sentenced to adult custody facilities, or directed to serve community-based orders administered by adult corrective services agencies.
For the purposes of this publication, federal sentenced prisoners are those persons who are recognised by the Criminal Law Division of the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department as having been charged and sentenced under a Commonwealth statute, or transferred from another country to serve their sentence in Australia under the International Transfer of Prisoners Act 1997 (Cwlth).
The community-based corrections data does not include offenders subject to orders or programs to be served in the community that are not managed and supervised by corrective services, for example, pre-sentence diversion programs operated by courts or unsupervised good behaviour bonds.
Except for Victoria and Tasmania, community-based corrections data include those persons with breached or suspended orders.
Statistics in this publication are derived from information provided to the ABS from administrative records held by corrective services agencies within each state and territory. Statistics on federal prisoners are derived from records kept by the Criminal Law Division of the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department.
The reference period for average daily prisoner population statistics is the complete reference month. The reference date for all other figures is the first day of the reference month. However, not all states and territories report strictly according to this 'first day of the month' rule. The Western Australian population is counted as at midnight on the last day of the month and the figures provided are taken to represent the prison population at the beginning of the following month.
Statistics presented in this publication are compiled in three ways:
- Average daily prisoner population: Counts taken on each day of the month are summed then divided by the number of days in that month to determine the average daily prisoner population for that month.
- First day of the month populations: Counts of prisoners; persons serving community-based corrections orders; and community-based corrections orders by type of order are taken on or near the first day of the month. For quarterly figures, the sum of the monthly data is divided by three; for yearly figures, the figures for each month are summed then divided by twelve.
- Prisoner receptions and prisoner releases figures: Counts of the total number of prisoner receptions and of the total number of prisoner releases are provided for each month. Monthly data are aggregated to form quarterly and yearly totals.
For the count of community-based corrections orders by type of order, if an offender has two or more different types of community-based orders operating simultaneously, then each order will be counted. If two or more community-based orders are of the same type, the person will only be counted once in each order category. Some jurisdictions have orders with multiple conditions and these conditions can be counted as separate orders.
The legal status of an offender is determined by the warrant(s) or court order(s) which provide the legal basis for the detention in custody of the offender. Some offenders may have more than one type of warrant issued against them; therefore, it is possible for an offender to have dual status (e.g. under sentence for some offences and awaiting appeal results for others, or under sentence and awaiting deportation). The counting rules for determining the legal status of an offender are as follows:
- If the prisoner has been sentenced for any offence then this takes precedence over any other offence(s)/charge(s) for which the prisoner is unsentenced.
- If the sentenced prisoner has appealed against all of his/her sentences then that prisoner is counted as under sentence.
Legal status for prisoner receptions data reflects only the status of the episode at point of reception (either sentenced or unsentenced). This does not capture any change in legal status during the period of imprisonment. Legal status for prisoner releases data reflects either: the legal status of the episode at point of release (sentenced or unsentenced), which maybe updated with court information; or the legal status of the whole episode.
Age for adult corrections
From 2019, prisoners in adult custody are aged 18 years and over. Persons under 18 years are treated as juveniles in most Australian courts and are only held in adult prisons in exceptional circumstances. In Queensland, 'adult' referred to persons aged 17 years and over until February 2018. In 2018, prisoners aged 17 years were moved from adult correctional facilities into the juvenile justice system.