Australian Institute of Criminology

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Corrections

In this chapter, corrective services includes prison custody, community corrections and juvenile detention.

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

Figure 85: Offenders' by type of corrective programa, 2007–08 (%)

Figure 85 Offenders' by type of corrective programa, 2007–08

a: Figures based on average daily population (prisons and community corrections)
b: Includes periodic detention (available only in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory)
n= 82,153

  • In 2007–08, 33 percent of offenders managed by corrective services authorities were serving custodial sentences, or on remand.
  • The remaining 67 percent were serving community-based orders.

Source: Reference 21

Prisons

A national census of adult prisoners is taken on 30 June each year. Prisoner counts include both sentenced prisoners and those on remand (awaiting trial or sentence), unless otherwise specified.

A total of 27,615 persons were in custody in Australian prisons on 30 June 2008—a 1.4 percent increase on the number recorded in 2007. This corresponds to a rate of 168 per 100,000 of the adult population; one percent lower than the 2007 rate. Of these prisoners, 21,275 were serving sentences, while 6,340 were on remand awaiting trial.

Source: Reference 23

Trend in prison population

Figure 86: Prisoners, 1984–2008 (per 100,000 persons)

Figure 86 Prisoners, 1984–2008

  • The overall imprisonment rate per 100,000 of the adult population increased from 88 to 168 between 1984 and 2008, an average growth rate of five percent per year, despite a slight (1.4%) decrease from 2006–07.
  • Over this period, the rate of prisoners on remand nearly quadrupled, from 10 per 100,000 in 1984, to 39 per 100,000 in 2008, while the rate of sentenced prisoners increased from 77 to 129 per 100,000 over the same period.
  • On 30 June 2008, 23 percent of all prisoners were on remand, a rise from 12 percent in 1984.

Source: References 2 and 23

Most serious offence

Some offenders serve sentences for multiple offences concurrently. These offenders are categorised as being in prison for the offence with the longest sentence, usually the offence deemed most serious. Violent prisoners are those convicted of homicide, assault, sex offences or robbery. Prisoners convicted of property offences include those charged with breaking and entering or with 'other theft' (including motor vehicle theft). '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 2008, the MSO for which 10,445 prisoners were sentenced was a violent offence. There were 3,259 prisoners whose MSO was a property offence and 7,571 prisoners who were sentenced for other MSOs.

Figure 87: Prisoners sentenced, 1986–2008, by most serious offence type (%)

Figure 87 Prisoners sentenced, 1986–2008, by most serious offence type

  • The percentage of prisoners sentenced for violent offences as their MSO increased from 38 percent in 1986 to 49 percent in 2008.
  • Those sentenced for property offences as their MSO has steadily declined from 25 percent in 1986 to 15 percent in 2008.
  • The proportion of prisoners sentenced for other offences as their MSO has remained steady, at about one-third.

Source: Reference 23

Table 9: Most serious offence of prisoners sentenced in 2008, by sex
MaleFemale
n%n%
a: Includes motor vehicle theft
b: Classified as offences against government security and operations, and justice procedures (GSJ). Includes offences such as breach of court order, breach of parole, escape from custody, offences against justice procedures, treason, sedition and resisting customs officials
c: Includes other offences against the person and property, public order offences and driving offence
Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding
Violent
Homicide 2,062 10 158 11
Assault 3,150 16 207 15
Sex offences 2,857 14 23 2
Robbery 1,907 10 81 6
Property
Break and enter 2,281 11 123 9
Other thefta 737 4 118 8
Other
GSJb 1,898 10 168 12
Drug offences 1,870 9 206 15
Fraud 489 2 172 12
Otherc 2,614 13 154 11
Total 19,865 100 1,410 100
  • Assault (16%), sex offences (14%) and breaking and entering (11%) were the most common MSO for which adult male prisoners were sentenced.
  • Drug offences (15%), assault (15%), fraud (12%) and offences related to government, security and justice procedures (12%) were the most common MSO for adult female prisoners.
  • Adult males imprisoned for the violent offences of homicide, assault, sex offences, or robbery as their MSO accounted for half of all sentenced adult male prisoners in 2007 (50%).
  • One-third of sentenced adult female prisoners (34%) were imprisoned for violent offences as their MSO.

Source: Reference 23

Sex

Figure 88: Prisoners, 1984–2008, by sex (per 100,000 of that sex)

Figure 88 Prisoners, 1984–2008, by sex

  • Between 1984 and 2008, the overall imprisonment rate for adult males increased from 170 to 317 per 100,000 of the adult male population per year.
  • The adult female rate of imprisonment was seven per 100,000 per year in 1984 and 24 per 100,000 per year in 2008.
  • As in the previous seven years, seven percent of prisoners in 2008 were women.
  • The number of adult male and female prisoners increased by an average of five percent and seven percent respectively per annum over the period 1984–2008.

Source: References 2 and 23

Figure 89: Prisoners, 2008, by age in years and sex (per 100,000 of that age group and sex)

Figure 89 Prisoners, 2008, by age in years and sex

  • On 30 June 2008, 55 percent of all prisoners were under 35 years of age.
  • The 25 to 34 year age bracket had the highest rates of imprisonment per 100,000 for both males and females (612 and 50 per 100,000 respectively).

Source: References 2 and 23

Indigenous status

Figure 90 shows the imprisonment rate of Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) and non-Indigenous persons.

Figure 90: Prisoners, 1992–2008, by Indigenous status (per 100,000)

Figure 90 Prisoners, 1992–2008, by Indigenous status (per 100,000)

  • At 30 June 2008, the Indigenous imprisonment rate (2,195 per 100,000) was over 17 times as high as the non-Indigenous rate (130 per 100,000).
  • Indigenous prisoners comprised 24 percent of the total prisoner population in 2008, in comparison with 14 percent in 1992.

Source: References 2, 23 and 26

Federal prisoners

Figure 91: Federal prisoners, 2002–08, by sex (n)

Figure 91 Federal prisoners, 2002–08, by sex

  • In June 2008, the ratio of male (562) to female (122) federal prisoners was 4.6:1.
  • From June 2002 to June 2008, the number of male federal prisoners decreased by 19 percent and the number of female federal prisoners increased by 65 percent.

Source: Reference 25

Recidivism

One measure of recidivism is rate of return to prison, which has remained stable in Australia over the past five years of data collection. Of those prisoners released in 2005–06, 38 percent had returned to prison under sentence by 30 June 2008, while 44 percent were returned to corrective services.

Source: Reference 21

Another measure, collected by the ABS, is previous imprisonment of inmates currently serving custodial sentences. Note that the prior imprisonment was not necessarily for the same type of offence.

Table 10: Previously imprisoned detainees as at 30 June 2008, by current offence and Indigenous status
IndigenousNon-Indigenous
n%n%
AICI: Acts intended to cause injury
Homicide 429 62 2,263 35
AICI 2,107 75 2,856 53
Sexual assault 715 62 2,682 28
Robbery 597 67 2,063 59
UEWI 927 73 2,202 75
Theft 259 68 890 65
Illicit drug offences 112 69 2,693 34
  • Indigenous prisoners serving time for any of the selected current offences were more likely than non-Indigenous prisoners to have a history of prior imprisonment, 73 percent and 50 percent respectively.
  • Rates of prior imprisonment of these Indigenous prisoners were consistently high in all offence categories.
  • The least likely causes of re-imprisonment of non-Indigenous prisoners were sexual assault, illicit drug offences and homicide.

Source: Reference 23

Community corrections

Community corrections comprise a variety of non-custodial programs, varying 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 continuing supervision.

Due to different definitions in the source material, the definition of community corrections in this chapter is somewhat different from the definition of non-custodial sentences given in Chapter 5. Whereas, in that chapter, weekend detention and home detention are considered custodial sentences, this chapter includes them as community-based sentences.

In Australia during 2007–08, an average of 54,914 offenders were serving community corrections orders on any given day—an increase of four percent from the number recorded in 2006–07. This corresponds to a rate of 334 per 100,000 adults, with 554 per 100,000 adult males and 119 per 100,000 adult females.

Source: References 2, 21 and 25

Figure 92: Average daily community corrections population, 2000–01 to 2007–08, by sex (n)

Figure 92 Average daily community corrections population, 2000–01 to 2007–08, by sex

  • The average daily number of adult male offenders on community correction orders decreased slightly, from 48,234 in 2000–01 to 44,815 in 2007–08, as did the number of adult female offenders (10,928 and 9,920 respectively).
  • Between 2000–01 and 2007–08, the rate of offenders on community corrections orders per 100,000 decreased by 18 percent for adult males and 19 percent for adult females.

Source: References 2 and 25

There are three main categories of community corrections orders:

  • restricted-movement orders (eg home detention);
  • reparation orders (eg fines, community service); and
  • supervision (compliance) orders (eg parole, bail, sentenced probation).

Figure 93: Average daily community corrections population, 2006–07 and 2007–08, by type of order (n)

Figure 93 Average daily community corrections population, 2006–07 and 2007–08, by type of order

  • The number of supervision orders (the most commonly used option) in 2007–08 (n=44,993) increased from the number recorded in 2006–07 (n=41,715). Use of supervision orders has increased by 31 percent since 2000–01.
  • Reparation orders continued to decrease, from 13,711 in 2006–07 to 12,973 in 2007–08. This is a decrease of 43.5 percent since 2000–01.
  • The number of offenders serving restricted-movement orders continued to fall, from 772 in 2006–07, to 708 in 2007–08.

Source: Reference 25

Figure 94: Successful completion of community corrections orders, 2006–07 and 2007–08, by type of order (%)

Figure 94 Successful completion of community corrections orders, 2006–07 and 2007–08, by type of order

  • Seventy percent of all community corrections orders that ended in 2007–08 were successfully completed, unchanged from 2006–07.
  • Restricted-movement orders were most likely to be successfully completed (79%), while reparation orders were least likely to be successfully completed (63%).

Source: Reference 25

Indigenous status

In 2007–08, 43,289 non-Indigenous and 9,918 Indigenous offenders served community corrections orders.

Figure 95: Average daily community corrections population, 2002–03 to 2007–08, by Indigenous status (per 100,000 of that status)

Figure 95 Average daily community corrections population, 2002–03 to 2007–08, by Indigenous status

  • In 2007–08, the rate of Indigenous people subject to community corrections orders was 12 times the rate for non-Indigenous adults, 3,246 per 100,000 Indigenous adults, compared with 268 per 100,000 non-Indigenous adults.
  • The community corrections rate for Indigenous people rose by 11 percent in 2007–08, after falling slightly between 2005–06 and 2006–07.

Source: References 2, 21, 23 and 26

Juvenile detention centres

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

The long-term trend data shown in this section are based on the census of juvenile detention centres conducted on 30 June of each year by the AIC.

Trend in juvenile detention centre population

As there are differences between jurisdictions regarding the definition of a juvenile, statistics are shown for persons aged from 10 to 17 years. Figure 96 depicts the detention rate of male and female juveniles from 1981 to 2008, including those on remand and those sentenced.

Figure 96: Persons in juvenile detention centres, 1981–2008, by sex (per 100,000 of that sex per year)a

Figure 96 Persons in juvenile detention centres, 1981–2008, by sex

a: Rates as at 30 June of each year

  • From 1981 to 2008, the overall detention rate for juveniles fell by 37 percent, from 105 to 66 per 100,000.
  • In 2008, the rate for male juveniles reached 66 per 100,000, a 43 percent rise since 2004 but a 37 percent fall from 105 in 1981.
  • The rate for female juveniles also fell, from 23 to six per 100,000. The proportion of females in the total juvenile detention centre population was nine percent on 30 June 2008, down from 17 percent in 1981.
  • The incarceration rate of male juveniles was 10 times as high as the rate of females.

Source: Reference 26

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 2008, for each quarter.

Figure 97: Persons in juvenile detention centres, 31 March 1994 to 30 June 2008, by Indigenous status (per 100,000 of that status per year)

Figure 97 Persons in juvenile detention centres, 31 March 1994 to 30 June 2008, by Indigenous status

a: Rates from 30 September 1996 and 31 December 2002 have been calculated using detainee totals and population estimates that exclude Tasmania, because data on detainee Indigenous status in Tasmania are unavailable for this period

  • The number of Indigenous persons in all juvenile detention centres on 30 June 2008 was 459. This represents 56 percent of the total number of persons detained in juvenile detention centres, a decline from 58 percent in the previous year.
  • The detention rate per 100,000 of Indigenous juveniles was 446, more than 26 times as high as that of non-Indigenous juveniles (17).
  • There has been a 64 percent increase in the rate per 100,000 of Indigenous juvenile detention since a low of 272 recorded in December 2000.

Source: References 2, 23 and 26