Australian Institute of Criminology

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Corrections

  • ISBN 978 1 921185 30 4 ; ISSN 1832-228X
  • Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 2007

The definition of adult varies among jurisdictions and over time. Data in this section refer to persons aged 18 years and older.

Past issues of Facts & figures have defined adults as persons aged 17 years and older when calculating rates of imprisonment. In this issue imprisonment rates for reference periods prior to 2004 have been recalculated based on the revised adult age and will thus be different from previous issues.

Rates per relevant population refer to the number of persons as per a specified population group (for example, juveniles, males or females, or Indigenous persons).

Persons under corrective services management

Corrective services agencies manage offenders sentenced to imprisonment, community corrections or periodic detention.

Figure 85 : Offenders, by type of corrective program, 2004-05a

a: Figures based on daily average counts

b: Includes periodic detention (available only in NSW and ACT)

  • As in 2003-04, 68% of offenders managed by corrective service authorities in 2004-05 were placed on community-based programs.
  • 32% were in prison serving sentences or on remand.

Source:

  • Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision 2006. Report on government services, volume 1: education, justice, emergency management. Melbourne: Productivity Commission

Prisons

A national census of adult prisoners is taken on 30 June each year. The most recent statistics available are from the 2005 prison census.

It should be noted that the prisoner counts include both sentenced prisoners and those on remand (awaiting trial or sentence), unless otherwise specified.

On 30 June 2005 a total of 25,353 persons were in custody in Australian prisons, a 4.9% increase on the number recorded in 2004. This corresponds to a rate of 163 per 100,000 adult population. This is 3.7% higher than the 2004 rate of 158, and continues the increasing trend for the national imprisonment rate in the past decade. The majority, 20,220, were sentenced prisoners and 5,133 were remandees.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 1982-2006. Prisoners in Australia (various issues, title varies). ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS. 1982-1993 published by Australian Institute of Criminology

Trend in prison populations

Figure 86 : Prisoners, 1984-2005 (rate per 100,000 persons)

  • Between 1984 and 2005, the overall imprisonment rate increased from 88 to 163 per 100,000 adult population. The prison population has grown by an average 5% a year since 1984.
  • At 30 June 2005 remanded prisoners (those awaiting trial or sentence), accounted for 20% of the total prisoner population, up from 12% in 1984.
  • The rate of prisoners remanded in custody tripled between 1984 and 2005, from 10 to 33 per 100,000 population.

Sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002-2005. Population by age and sex, Australian states and territories (various issues). ABS cat. no. 3201.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 1982-2006. Prisoners in Australia (various issues, title varies). ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS. 1982-1993 published by Australian Institute of Criminology

Most serious offence

Offenders can be sentenced to a prison term for one or a number of offences. The offence for which an offender is categorised as being in prison is the offence that is deemed most serious, that is, the one with the longest sentence.

Violent prisoners are those convicted of homicide, assault, sex offences, or robbery. Prisoners convicted of property offences include those charged with break and enter and with other theft (including MVT). Other offenders are those who have been convicted of fraud, offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations, drug offences and others, such as public order and driving offences.

On 30 June 2005 there were 9,579 sentenced prisoners in Australia whose most serious offence was a violent offence, 3,734 whose most serious offence was a property offence, and 6,907 who were sentenced for other offences.

Figure 87 : Prisoners sentenced for violent, property and other offences, 1986-2005 (percent)

  • The percentage of prisoners sentenced for violent offences increased from 38% in 1986 to 47% in 1995 and has continued to remain steady since then.
  • Those sentenced for property offences declined from 25% in 1986 to 20% in 1994, a percentage that has since remained steady.
  • The proportion sentenced for other offences has remained steady at about one-third.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 1982-2006. Prisoners in Australia (various issues, title varies). ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS. 1982-1993 published by Australian Institute of Criminology
Table 9 : Sentenced prisoners by most serious offence, 2005
MaleFemale
Number%Number%
a: Includes MVT
b: Deception and related offences
c: Government security and justice procedures, includes offences such as breach of court order, breach of parole, escape custody, offences against justice procedures, treason, sedition and resisting customs officials
d: Includes other offences against the person and property, public order offences and driving offences
Violent
Homicide1,9001013711
Assault2,8471515912
Sex offences2,34112 20 2
Robbery2,09011 85 7
Property
Break and enter2,4141312910
Other theft a1,048614311
Fraud b524319015
Other
GSJc1,598814811
Drug offences1,8441017614
Other d2,313121149
Total18,9191001,301100
  • The most serious offences for which male prisoners were most likely to be sentenced included assault, sex offences, break and enter and robbery.
  • Female prisoners were most likely to be sentenced for fraud, drug offences, assault and homicide.
  • Males imprisoned for the violent offences of homicide, assault, sex offences and robbery accounted for almost half of all sentenced male prisoners in 2005 (48%).
  • One-third of sentenced females (32%) were imprisoned for violent offences.
  • These patterns remained consistent between 2004 and 2005.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 1982-2006. Prisoners in Australia (various issues, title varies). ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS. 1982-1993 published by Australian Institute of Criminology

Gender

Figure 88 : Prisoners by gender, 1984-2005 (rate per 100,000 persons)

  • Between 1984 and 2005, the overall imprisonment rate for males increased from 170 to 309 per 100,000 adult male population.
  • The female rate of imprisonment was 7 per 100,000 in 1984 and 22 per 100,000 in 2005.
  • As for the past four years, in 2005 7% of prisoners were women, up from 4% in 1984.
  • The number of male and female prisoners increased annually by an average of 5% and 8% respectively over the period 1984-2005.
  • 60% of prisoners in 2005 were known to have been in prison previously.

Sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002-2005. Population by age and sex, Australian states and territories (various issues). ABS cat. no. 3201.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 1982-2006. Prisoners in Australia (various issues, title varies). ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS. 1982-1993 published by Australian Institute of Criminology

Figure 89 : Age and gender of prisoners, 2005 (rate per 100,000 relevant population)

  • 93% of prisoners in 2005 were male.
  • 59% of male and 55% of female prisoners were under 35 years of age.
  • For both males and females, 25 to 34 year olds had the highest imprisonment rates in 2005, followed by 18 to 24 year olds.

Sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002-2005. Population by age and sex, Australian states and territories (various issues). ABS cat. no. 3201.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 1982-2006. Prisoners in Australia (various issues, title varies). ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS. 1982-1993 published by Australian Institute of Criminology

Indigenous status

Figure 90 shows the imprisonment rate of Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) and non-Indigenous persons. These data include both sentenced prisoners and remandees.

Note: Population projections for Indigenous adults are based on data provided by the ABS. The ABS uses two methods to estimate Indigenous populations: the low series and the high series. Both employ certain assumptions about births, deaths and migration. The high series also incorporates assumptions about a change in the propensity to identify as Indigenous. Figures in this publication present rates based on high series population data.

Source:

  • Extracted from June 1991 - June 2009 unpublished data from high-series projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population provided by ABS

Figure 90 : Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners, 1992-2005 (rate per 100,000 adults)

  • On 30 June 2005 the Indigenous imprisonment rate was almost 15 times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous persons, at 1,921 per 100,000 Indigenous adult population compared with 129 for the non-Indigenous adult population. The rate shows a slight increase over 2004.
  • Indigenous prisoners comprised 22% of the total prisoner population in 2005, compared with 14% in 1992.
  • 77% of Indigenous prisoners were known to have previously been in prison.

Sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002-2005. Population by age and sex, Australian states and territories (various issues). ABS cat. no. 3201.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 1982-2006. Prisoners in Australia (various issues, title varies). ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS. 1982-1993 published by Australian Institute of Criminology
  • Extracted from June 1991 - June 2009 unpublished data from high-series projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population provided by ABS

Federal prisoners

Figure 91 : Federal prisoners, by gender, 2002-05 (number)

  • In June 2005, there were 570 male and 87 female federal prisoners.
  • Between June 2002 and June 2005, the number of male federal prisoners decreased by 17% and the number of female federal prisoners increased by 18%.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002-2005. Corrective services (various issues). ABS cat. no. 4512.0. Canberra: ABS

Community corrections

Community corrections comprise a variety of non-custodial programs which vary in the extent and nature of supervision, the conditions of the order, and the restrictions on the person's freedom of movement in the community. They generally provide either a non-custodial sentencing alternative or a post-custodial mechanism for reintegrating prisoners into the community under continued supervision.

The definition of community corrections in this chapter is somewhat different from the definition of non-custodial sentences given in Chapter 5. This chapter includes weekend detention and home detention as community-based sentences, whereas they are considered custodial sentences in the previous chapter. The difference is due to differing definitions in the source material.

In Australia during 2004-05, there was an average of 52,506 offenders per day serving community correction orders, an increase of 3% from the number recorded in 2003-04.

This corresponds to a rate of 338 per 100,000 adults - 560 per 100,000 adult males and 119 per 100,000 adult females.

As in the previous year, females accounted for a larger proportion of the community corrections population than the prison population, at 18% and 7% respectively.

Sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002-2005. Population by age and sex, Australian states and territories (various issues). ABS cat. no. 3201.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision 2006. Report on government services, volume 1: education, justice, emergency management. Melbourne: Productivity Commission
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 1982-2006. Prisoners in Australia (various issues, title varies). ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS. 1982-1993 published by Australian Institute of Criminology

Figure 92 : Average daily community corrections population, 2000-01 to 2004-05 (number)

  • The average daily number of male offenders on community correction orders declined from 48,234 in 2000-01, to 42,811 in 2004-05. The number of female offenders declined from 10,928 to 9,386. There was, however, a small increase in the number of males and female offenders on community correction orders between 2003-04 and 2004-05.
  • Between 2000-01 and 2004-05 the rate of offenders on community correction orders per 100,000 adults decreased by 17% for males and 19% for females, while the rate of imprisonment increased.

Sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002-2005. Population by age and sex, Australian states and territories (various issues). ABS cat. no. 3201.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision 2006. Report on government services, volume 1: education, justice, emergency management. Melbourne: Productivity Commission
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 1982-2006. Prisoners in Australia (various issues, title varies). ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS. 1982-1993 published by Australian Institute of Criminology

Community corrections orders are classified into three main categories:

  • restricted movement orders (e.g. home detention)
  • reparation orders (e.g. fine options, community service)
  • supervision (compliance) orders (e.g. parole, bail, sentenced probation).

Figure 93 : Average daily community corrections population, by type of order, 2003-04 and 2004-05 (number)

  • The year 2004-05 saw the highest recording of supervision orders (the most commonly used option) since 2000-01 (40,359 offenders).
  • Reparation orders are also common, with 15,877 offenders serving this option in 2004-05. This represents a slight increase (2%) from 2003-04.
  • In 2004-05, 792 offenders were serving restricted movement orders, up from 684 the previous year.

Source:

  • Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision 2006. Report on government services, volume 1: education, justice, emergency management. Melbourne: Productivity Commission

Figure 94 : Successful completion of community corrections orders, 2003-04 and 2004-05 (percent)

  • On average, 74% of all community corrections orders were successfully completed in 2004-05, the same as in 2003-04.
  • Successful completions ranged from 71% for reparation orders to 77% for supervision orders.

Source:

  • Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision 2006. Report on government services, volume 1: education, justice, emergency management. Melbourne: Productivity Commission

Indigenous status

On average, 40,145 non-Indigenous offenders and 8,240 Indigenous offenders were serving community corrections orders in 2004-05.

Figure 95 : Average daily community corrections population, by Indigenous status, 2000-01 to 2004-05 (rate per 100,000 relevant population)

  • In 2004-05, the Indigenous community corrections rate was ten times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous offenders, at 2,799 compared with 264 per 100,000 relevant population.
  • The community corrections rate for Indigenous people continued an upward trend from the previous year: 2,717 rising to 2,799 per 100,000 Indigenous adults.
  • The community corrections rate for non-Indigenous people declined in the period 2000-01 to 2004-05, from 313 to 264 per 100,000 non-Indigenous adults.

Sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002-2005. Population by age and sex, Australian states and territories (various issues). ABS cat. no. 3201.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision 2006. Report on government services, volume 1: education, justice, emergency management. Melbourne: Productivity Commission
  • Extracted from June 1991 - June 2009 unpublished data from high-series projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population provided by ABS

Juvenile corrective institutions

The AIC has maintained a data collection since 1981 on the number of persons detained in juvenile corrective institutions, consisting of a count of the number of persons detained in institutions on the last day of each quarter each year. Similar information is not available for the sentenced non-custodial juvenile population.

The long term trend data shown in this section are based on the census conducted on 30 June of each year.

Trend in juvenile corrective institution population

As there are differences between jurisdictions regarding the definition of a juvenile, statistics are shown for people aged between 10 and 17 years. Figure 96 depicts the imprisonment rate of male and female juveniles from 1981 to 2005.

Figure 96 : Persons in juvenile corrective institutions, 1981-2005 (rate per 100,000 relevant population)

  • Between 1981 and 2005, the overall incarceration rate for juveniles declined 58%, from 65 to 27 per 100,000.
  • In 2005, the rate for males declined to 48 per 100,000 from 105 in 1981. The rate for females dropped from 23 to 5.
  • The percentage of females in the total juvenile prison population has dropped from 17% in 1981 to 9% in 2005.
  • In 2005, the male incarceration rate was 10 times higher than the rate for female juveniles.

Source:

Indigenous status

Data on incarcerated juveniles by Indigenous status have been made available since 1994. This section shows the incarceration rate of Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons in juvenile corrective institutions, from 31 March 1994 to 30 June 2005 for each quarter.

Note: These data are based on the high series of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population projections for juveniles. This method accounts for the effects of increased propensity to identify as Indigenous between the 1991, 1996 and 2001 censuses. In 2004 the ABS released revised Indigenous population figures in the high series for 2001-03, based on the 2001 census. Rate calculations for these years therefore differ from some previous publications.

Figure 97 : Persons in juvenile corrective institutions by Indigenous status, 31 March 1994 - 30 June 2005 (rate per 100,000 relevant population)a

a: Between 30 September 1996 and 31 December 2002, rates have been calculated using detainee totals and population estimates excluding Tasmania because detainee Indigenous status data for Tasmania are unavailable for this period

  • The total number of Indigenous persons in juvenile corrective institutions on 30 June 2005 was 317. This represents 52% of the total number of persons detained in juvenile corrective institutions.
  • The incarceration rate for Indigenous juveniles was 312 per 100,000, 23 times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous juveniles (14 per 100,000).
  • There has been a 33% decline in the Indigenous juvenile imprisonment rate since the high of 468 per 100,000 recorded in March 1997.

Sources:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2002-2005. Population by age and sex, Australian states and territories (various issues). ABS cat. no. 3201.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Extracted from June 1991 - June 2009 unpublished data from high-series projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population provided by ABS
  • Taylor N 2006. Statistics on juvenile detention in Australia: 1981-2005. Technical and background paper no. 22. Canberra: AIC