Older Australians in prison

The ageing of the population is as much a concern within the justice system as in general society. In 2006, Australia's prison population had a median age of 33, (ABS 2006). While younger than the national median (37 years), the prison population contains a large proportion of older prisoners (50 years and older; Grant 1999). The figure below shows the imprisonment rate (sentenced and remand) for older age groups from 1985 to 2006. Although imprisonment rates overall may be stablising (Crime facts info no. 147), they continue to increase for older groups. Growth varies across age groups, with the highest rate in the 60-64 years group, an average annual increase of 16 percent. Given that prisoners generally have poorer health outcomes, this increase will impact on health services within correctional facilities as well as post release programs.

Older prisoners in Australia, by age group, 1985–2006 (rate) [see attached PDF for graph]


  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 1994-2006. Prisoners in Australia (various issues). ABS cat. no. 4517.0. Canberra: ABS
  • Australian Institute of Criminology 1985-1994. Australian prisoners (various issues). Canberra: AIC
  • Grant A 1999. Elderly inmates: Issues for Australia.Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 115.