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4512.0 - Corrective Services, Australia, Dec 1999  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/04/1999   
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April 14, 1999
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Prison numbers continue to rise - ABS

The average number of prisoners in Australia increased by 1,569 (8.7%) over the year to the end of December 1998, according to a report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The most significant increases were recorded in Queensland and New South Wales, where the average daily number of prisoners rose by 530 (11.8%) and 495 (7.8%) respectively.

The average daily number of prisoners increased over this period in all other States and Territories except South Australia and the Northern Territory, which decreased by 49 ( minus 3.4%) and 20 (minus 3.2%) respectively.

In the December quarter 1998 the average number of prisoners was 19,631, an increase of 513 (2.7%) on the September quarter 1998. New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia were the major contributors to this increase, rising by 224 (3.4%), 178 (3.7%) and 149 (6.1%) respectively. There were decreases in South Australia (34, or minus 2.4%) and the Northern Territory (19 or minus 3.1%) prisoners.

Of all prisoners in the December quarter 1998, 6,801 (34.6%) were in New South Wales. Queensland accounted for another 5,037 (25.7%) prisoners, Victoria 2,857 (14.6%) and Western Australia had 2,585 (13.2%) prisoners.

Nationally, the daily average imprisonment rate was 139 prisoners per 100,000 adult population during the December quarter 1998 compared to 129 in the December quarter 1997. The Northern Territory had the highest rate of 450 prisoners per 100,000 adult population, substantially greater than the next highest, Queensland (193) and Western Australia (191).

Of the average number of prisoners in Australia during the December quarter 1998, 18,488 (94.2%) were males and 1,143 (5.8%) were females. The proportion of prisoners who were female ranged from 7.0% in Western Australia to 3.9% in Tasmania.

There was an average of 14,118 prisoners (71.9%) in secure prison custody in Australia during the December quarter 1998, with 5,513 prisoners (28.1%) held in open prison custody. The highest proportion of prisoners held in secure prisons was recorded in Victoria (88.7%), followed by South Australia (86.8%). The State or Territory with the lowest proportion of prisoners in secure prison custody was the Australian Capital Territory (including ACT prisoners held in NSW prisons), with 44.2%. All female prisoners in South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory were held in secure custody.

In States and Territories other than New South Wales, the highest number of Indigenous people in prison custody on 1 December 1998 was recorded in Queensland (1,090), followed by Western Australia (870) and the Northern Territory (440). The highest proportion of Indigenous people in prison custody was recorded in the Northern Territory (72.8%), followed by Western Australia (33.1%) and Queensland (21.6%). Information on Indigenous prisoners is not currently available for New South Wales.

Details are in Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0), available in ABS bookshops.

A summary of findings from the publication is available from this site

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