Australian Institute of Criminology

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Chapter 6: Corrections

Corrective services in this chapter include prison custody, community corrections and juvenile detention. Corrective services agencies manage offenders sentenced to prison, community corrections and periodic detention.

Figure 95: Offenders by type of corrective program, 2008–09(%)a

Offenders by type of corrective program, 2008–09

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=85,389

  • The number of offenders in correctional institutions around Australia increased from 82,290 in 2007–08 to 85,389 in 2008–09.
  • In 2008–09, 33 percent of offenders managed by corrective services authorities were serving custodial sentences or were on remand.
  • The remaining 67 percent were serving community-based orders.

Source: Reference 22

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 29,317 persons were in custody in Australian prisons on 30 June 2009—a six percent increase on the number recorded for 2008. This corresponds to a rate of 174 per 100,000 adult population, which is four percent higher than the 2008 rate. Of these prisoners, 22,924 were serving sentences, while 6,393 (22%) were on remand awaiting trial.

Source: Reference 25

Trends in prison populations

Figure 96: Prisoners, 1984–2009 (per 100,000 population)

Prisoners, 1984–2009

  • Overall, the imprisonment rate per 100,000 adult population increased from 88 in 1984 to 174 in 2009. This equates to an average growth rate of three percent per year since 1984.
  • On 30 June 2009, prisoners on remand accounted for 22 percent of all prisoners, while those sentenced accounted for 78 percent. The proportion of remand to sentenced prisoners has been increasing since the early 1990s.

Source: References 2 and 25

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 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 2009, the MSO for which 11,248 prisoners were sentenced was a violent offence. There were 3,615 prisoners whose MSO was a property offence and 8,061 prisoners who were sentenced for other MSOs.

Figure 97: Prisoners sentenced by most serious offence type, 1986–2009 (%)

Prisoners sentenced by most serious offence type, 1986–2009

a: Includes fraud/deception, offences against justice procedure and drug offences

  • The proportion of prisoners sentenced for violent, property and other offences were similar to those of 2008. Specifically, in 2009, 49 percent of prisoners were sentenced for violent crimes, 16 percent for property offences and 35 percent for other offences.
  • Since 2003, the number of prisoners sentenced for violent offences has increased by five percent or, on average, by 0.7 percent per year.
  • In 2009, 16 percent of prisoners were sentenced for a property crime, increasing slightly from 15 percent in 2008.

Source: Reference 25

Table 9: Most serious offence of prisoners sentenced by sex, 2009
MaleFemale
n%n%
Violent
Homicide 2,053 10 166 10
Assault 3,629 17 211 13
Sex offences 3,035 14 29 2
Robbery 2,022 9 103 6
Property
Break and enter 2,474 12 114 7
Other thefta 854 4 173 11
Other
JGSOb 2,035 10 170 11
Drug offences 2,090 10 258 16
Fraud 490 2 205 13
Otherc 2,648 12 165 10
Total 21,330 100 1,594 100

a: Includes MVT

b: JGSO (offences against justice procedures, government security and operations) includes offences such as breach of court order, breach of parole, escape from custody, offences against justice procedures, treason, sedition and resisting customs officials. Classified as offences against government security and operations, and justice procedures

c: Includes other offences against the person and property, public order offences and driving offence

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

  • In 2009, there were far more males sentenced for violent, property and other crimes (n=21,330) than females (n=1,594).
  • 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 2008–09 (50%).
  • The rates of female sentencing compared with male sentencing were higher for drug offences (16%), fraud (13%), 'other' theft (11%), JGSO (11%) and homicide (10%).

Source: Reference 25

Sex

Figure 98: Prisoners by sex, 1984–2009 (per 100,000 population of that sex)

Prisoners by sex, 1984–2009

  • In 2009, the overall imprisonment rate for males was 328 per 100,000 per adult male population. This is a four percent increase from the previous year.
  • The ratio of male to female prisoners was 13:1 per 100,000 adult population.

Source: References 2 and 25

Figure 99: Prisoners by age group and sex, 2009 (per 100,000 population of that age group and sex)

Prisoners by age group and sex, 2009

  • Over half (55%) of all offenders were aged less than 35 years.
  • In 2009, females accounted for seven percent of all prisoners.
  • In 2009, males aged 25–34 years had the highest rate of imprisonment, with 625 per 100,000 adult male population imprisoned.

Source: References 2 and 25

Indigenous status

Figure 100 shows the imprisonment rate of Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons.

Figure 100: Prisoners by Indigenous status, 1992–2009 (per 100,000 population)

Prisoners by Indigenous status, 1992–2009

  • At 30 June 2009, 26 percent of the prison population (n=7,386) were Indigenous.
  • Since 1992, the proportion of Indigenous prisoners has risen by 79 percent. By comparison, the proportion of non-Indigenous prisoners has declined by 13 percent.

Source: References 2 and 25

Federal prisoners

Figure 101: Federal prisoners by sex, 2002–09 (n)

Federal prisoners by sex, 2002–09

  • The ratio of males to females on 30 June 2009 was 5:1.
  • The number of female federal prisoners increased from 87 prisoners in 2007 to 110 prisoners in 2009; an increase of 26 percent.
  • Overall, male prisoner numbers have decreased by 14 percent since 2002.

Source: Reference 26

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 2006–07, 39 percent had returned to prison under sentence by 30 June 2009, while 45 percent were returned to corrective services.

Source: Reference 21

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

Table 10: Detainees at 30 June 2009 previously imprisoned by current offence and Indigenous status
IndigenousNon-Indigenous
n%n%
Homicide 441 62 2,256 35
AICI 2,365 76 3,203 52
Sexual assault 747 63 2,837 27
Robbery 650 69 2,104 60
UEWI 1,010 77 2,183 76
Theft 280 76 993 66
Illicit drug offences 138 59 2,987 34
  • Indigenous prisoners were consistently more likely to have a history of prior imprisonment compared with non-Indigenous prisoners. In 2009, 74 percent of Indigenous prisoners had previously been incarcerated compared with 50 percent of non-Indigenous prisoners.
  • Non-Indigenous offenders were more likely to have a history of imprisonment if they were arrested for UEWI (76%), theft (66%) or robbery (60%).
  • Although high across all categories, in the case of Indigenous offenders, a history of prior imprisonment was least common for sexual assault (63%), homicide (62%) and illicit drug offences (59%).

Source: Reference 25

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 Chapter 5 weekend detention and home detention are considered custodial sentences, in this chapter they are classified as community-based sentences.

In Australia during 2008–09, an average of 56,972 offenders were serving community corrections orders on any given day—an increase of three percent from the number recorded in 2007–08. This corresponds to a rate of 338 per 100,000 adults, with 562 per 100,000 adult males and 121 per 100,000 adult females.

Source: References 2, 22 and 26

Figure 102: Average daily community corrections population by sex, 2000–01 to 2008–09 (n)

Average daily community corrections population by sex, 2000–01 to 2008–09

  • In 2008–09, the average daily community corrections population increased for both sexes. Specifically, the male community corrections population rose by four percent and the female population by three percent.
  • Between 2000–01 and 2007–08, the rate of offenders on community corrections orders per 100,000 population decreased by 18 percent for adult males and 19 percent for adult females.

Source: References 2 and 26

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 103: Average daily community corrections population by type of order, 2007–08 to 2008–09 (n)

Average daily community corrections population by type of order, 2007–08 to 2008–09

  • Supervision orders accounted for 78 percent of total community corrections orders in 2008–09, while restricted movement orders accounted for one percent.
  • Both restricted movement and supervision orders increased in 2008–09 compared with the numbers recorded for 2007–08. Specifically, restricted movement orders increased by 13 percent (586 in 2007–08 to 665 in 2008–09) and supervision orders increased by four percent (45,056 to 46,985).
  • Reparation orders being served by prisoners in community corrections fell by two percent in 2008–09, from 13,147 in 2007–08 to 12,872.

Source: Reference 26

Figure 104: Successful completion of community corrections orders by type of order, 2007–08 and 2008–09 (%)

Successful completion of community corrections orders by type of order, 2007–08 and 2008–09

  • Reparation orders were less likely to be successfully completed in 2008–09 (66%) compared with a 63 percent completion rate in 2007–08.
  • Successful completion of supervision orders and restricted movement orders were similar to those reported in the previous years.

Source: Reference 26

Indigenous status

In 2008–09, 43,877 non-Indigenous and 10,522 Indigenous offenders served community corrections orders.

Figure 105: Average daily community corrections population by Indigenous status, 2002–03 to 2008–09 (per 100,000 population of that status)

Average daily community corrections population by Indigenous status, 2002–03 to 2008–09

  • In 2008–09, Indigenous people were subject to community corrections orders at a rate of 3,334 per 100,000 Indigenous adult population compared with a rate of 261 per 100,000 non-Indigenous adult population.
  • The community corrections rate for Indigenous people rose by three percent in 2008–09, after increasing by 12 percent between 2006–07 and 2007–08.

Source: References 2, 22 and 25

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 trends data shown in this section are based on the census of juvenile detention centres conducted on 30 June of each year.

Trends 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 106 depicts the detention rate of male and female juveniles from 1981 to 2009, including those on remand and those sentenced.

Figure 106: Persons in juvenile detention centres by sex, 1981–2009 (per 100,000 population of that sex per year)a

Persons in juvenile detention centres by sex, 1981–2009

a: Rates as at 30 June of each year

  • The rate of juvenile incarceration was 10 times higher for males than for females. At 30 June 2009, there were 715 juvenile males in correctional institutions and 66 juvenile females.
  • In 2009, juvenile females were incarcerated at a rate of six per 100,000 population, compared with a rate of 23 per 100,000 population in 1981. This equates to a 75 percent decrease over a 29 year period.
  • The incarceration rate for juvenile males has declined by 42 percent since 1981. In 1981, juvenile males were incarcerated at a rate of 105 per 100,000 population. In 2009, this figure has decreased to 61 per 100,000 population.

Source: Reference 27

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 correctional institutions, from 31 March 1994 to 30 June 2009, for each quarter.

Figure 107: Persons in juvenile detention centres by Indigenous status, 31 March 1994 to 30 June 2009a (per 100,000 population of that status per year)

Persons in juvenile detention centres by Indigenous status, 31 March 1994 to 30 June 2009a (per 100,000 population of that status per year)

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

  • On 30 June 2008, 54 percent of juveniles in detention identified as Indigenous.
  • Non-Indigenous juveniles offenders were detained in correctional institutions at a rate of 16 per 100,000 non-Indigenous juvenile population compared with 370 Indigenous juvenile offenders per 100,000 Indigenous juvenile population.
  • The detention rate of Indigenous juveniles was 23 percent higher than that of non-Indigenous juveniles.
  • During the first quarter of 2008, a high number of Indigenous juveniles were detained in correctional institutions (n=529). Since then, this number has fallen by 22 percent to 411 on 30 June 2009.

Source: References 2, 25 and 27