Australian Institute of Criminology

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Deaths in custody in Australia to 30 June 2011
Twenty years of monitoring by the National Deaths in Custody Program since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

Monitoring report no.20

Mathew Lyneham and Andy Chan
ISBN 978 1 922009 28 9 ISSN 1836-2079
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, May 2013

Abstract | Compiled for two decades by the Australian Institute of Criminology, this report found both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous rates of deaths in custody have decreased over the last decade and are now some of the lowest ever seen (0.16 per 100 Indigenous prisoners and 0.22 per 100 non-Indigenous prisoners in 2010–11). For the last eight years in a row, the Indigenous rate of death in prison has been lower than the equivalent non-Indigenous rate.

While Indigenous prisoners continue to be statistically less likely to die in custody than non-Indigenous prisoners, there is a concerning trend emerging, as the actual number of Indigenous deaths in prison are rising again, with 14 in 2009-10 which is equal to the highest on record.

More concerning still is that over the 20 years since the Royal Commission, the proportion of prisoners that are Indigenous has almost doubled from 14% in 1991 to 26% in 2011.