Australian Institute of Criminology

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More women in prisons

Media Release

15 March 2001

A report released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that the rate at which women are incarcerated is increasing more quickly that the rate for incarcerated men.

Although the number of women in prison is low overall, the population has increased significantly during the past decade. This increase makes it vital to examine intervention programs available to women in prison.

In releasing the report, Dr Adam Graycar, AIC Director said "The examination of data indicates that women can benefit from drug rehabilitation, vocational training and relevant employment experience but this is very hard to do in the prison environment".

"In the mid 1970s, a pessimistic atmosphere existed where it was felt that 'nothing works'. However, recent data suggests that the picture is more optimistic today and that offender treatment programs do in fact reduce problem behaviour", said Dr Graycar.

The report found that in 1991, 607 women were incarcerated. In 1999 this had almost doubled to 1124 (an 85% increase). In 1991, 9.2 women per 100,000 were imprisoned compared with 15.3 per 100,000 in 1999. As a rate per 100,000 of the population, the increase is about 66%.

The report found that the population of sentenced men incarcerated has increased from 12429 in 19991 to 17208 in 1999. This constitutes an increase of about 38%. The men's rate per 100,000 has increased from 194 to 240.5 (a 24% increase)