Australian Institute of Criminology

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No Indigenous hangings during 2002

Media Release

17 July 2003

The 2002 annual report from the National Deaths in Custody Program at the Australian Institute of Criminology found that there were no Indigenous deaths as a result of hanging in police, prison or juvenile custody. This is the first year such an outcome has been recorded by the Program since 1982.

"This regular and unique monitoring of national deaths in custody has also found that for the first year since 1982 there have been no Indigenous deaths in either police or prison cells in Australia", said Dr Adam Graycar, AIC Director.

The report also found:

  • Between January and December 2002, there were a total of 69 deaths in custody in Australia. There were 50 deaths in prison custody and 19 deaths in police custody and custody-related police operations.
  • The most common cause of death in custodial settings was death due to natural causes which accounted for 38% (n=25) of all custodial deaths in 2002.
  • 20% of all custodial deaths involved Indigenous persons (n=14) during 2002. Of these, eight occurred in prison facilities, while six occurred while in the custody of police. None of these Indigenous deaths occurred in cells.
  • Of the deaths that occurred in prison custody during 2002, the majority were as a result of either natural causes or were self-inflicted (50% and 41% respectively). In police custody however, the majority of deaths resulted from accidents or were self-inflicted (37% each).