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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 or periodic detention.

Figure 100: Offenders by type of corrective program, 2009–10a (%)

Offenders by type of corrective program, 2009–10 (%)

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=87,356

  • In 2008–09, there were a total of 85,389 offenders in corrective programs, compared with 87,356 offenders in 2009–10; an increase of two percent.
  • In 2009–10, 66 percent of offenders were involved in community-based corrective programs, a one percent increase compared to 2008–09.

Source: Reference 23

Prisons

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

A total of 29,700 persons were in custody in Australian prisons on 30 June 2010—a one percent increase on the number recorded in 2009. This corresponds to a rate of 172 persons per 100,000 of the adult population, one percent lower than the 2009 rate. Of these prisoners, 23,333 were serving sentences, while 6,364 (21%) were on remand awaiting trial.

Source: Reference 26

Trend in prison population

Figure 101: Prisoners, 1984–2010 (per 100,000 persons)

Prisoners, 1984–2010 (per 100,000 persons)

  • Since 1984, when imprisonment rates were at their lowest (88 per 100,000 population), the rate of imprisonment for both males and females has increased by 97 percent. In 2010, the total rate of imprisonment was 172 per 100,000 population.
  • In 2008, the rate of offenders on remand was 39 per 100,000 population. Since then, it has fallen to 38 per 100,000 in 2009, followed by a further decline in 2010 to 37 per 100,000 population.
  • Over the past 12 years, the rate of sentenced offenders has fluctuated. The 2009 rate was the highest on record, although in 2010 it fell to 135 per 100,000 population.

Source: References 2 and 26

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 2010, the MSO for which 11,705 prisoners were sentenced was a violent offence. There were 3,724 prisoners whose MSO was a property offence and 7,902 prisoners who were sentenced for other MSOs. Therefore, 50 percent of prisoners at 30 June 2010 were serving time for a violent MSO, 16 percent for a property MSO and 34 percent for another type of MSO.

Figure 102: Prisoners sentenced, by most serious offence type, 1986–2010 (%)

Prisoners sentenced, by most serious offence type, 1986–2010 (%)

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

  • In 1986, there was only a two percentage point difference between the proportion of prisoners sentenced for an MSO involving violence compared with other crimes (excluding property crimes). In 2010, this gap had widened to 16 percentage points, driven mainly by the increase in the proportion of prisoners sentenced for violent MSOs.
  • The proportion of prisoners sentenced as a result of a property MSO has been in gradual decline since 1986. Since 1999, the proportion of prisoners sentenced with a property MSO has remained below 20 percent and in 2010 this proportion was 16 percent.

Source: Reference 26

Table 7: Most serious offence of prisoners sentenced in 2010, by sex (n)
Male Female
n % n %
Violent
Homicide 2,112 10 184 11
Assault 3,717 17 253 15
Sexual offences 3,102 14 42 3
Robbery 2,188 10 107 6
Property
Break and enter 2,590 12 137 8
Other thefta 837 4 160 9
Other
GSJb 2,078 10 178 10
Drug offences 2,092 10 294 17
Fraud 489 2 211 12
Otherc 2,400 11 160 9
Total 21,605 100 1,726 100

a: Includes MVT

b: 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 (GSJ)

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

  • As with previous years, there were greater numbers of male offenders than females sentenced for violent, property and other MSOs.
  • Males were sentenced at greater proportions than females for MSOs involving sexual offences (14% compared with 3%), robbery (10% compared with 6%) and break and enters (12% compared with 8%).
  • Conversely, females were sentenced in greater proportions than males in cases where the MSO involved ‘other’ theft (9% compared with 4%), drug offences (17% compared with 10%) and fraud (12% compared with 2%).

Source: Reference 26

Sex

Figure 103: Prisoners, by sex, 1984–2010 (per 100,000 of that sex)

Prisoners, by sex, 1984–2010 (per 100,000 of that sex)

  • The rate of male imprisonment has increased substantially over the last 26 years, rising from 170 per 100,000 male population in 1984 to 323 per 100,000 male population in 2010 (90% increase). Similarly, female imprisonment has risen from seven to 25 per 100,000 female population; a total increase of 257 percent.

Source: References 2 and 26

Figure 104: Prisoners, by age group and sex, 2010 (per 100,000 of that age group and sex)

Prisoners, by age group and sex, 2010 (per 100,000 of that age group and sex)

  • Despite males being imprisoned at a higher rate than females across all age categories in 2010, the distribution for both sexes followed a similar pattern. For example, the imprisonment rates for both sexes were highest in the 25–34 year age group, where males were imprisoned at a rate of 595 per 100,000, compared with females who were imprisoned at a rate of 53 per 100,000.
  • For females, the age group with the second highest rate of imprisonment was the 35–49 year olds (36 per 100,000). For males, the second highest rate of imprisonment was among persons aged 18–24 years (467 per 100,000).
  • The rate of imprisonment for males aged less than 18 years was one per 100,000. For females, the equivalent rate was less than one per 100,000.

Source: References 2 and 26

Indigenous status

In Figure 105, the imprisonment rate of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people is presented.

Figure 105: Prisoners, by Indigenous status, 1992–2010 (per 100,000 population)

Prisoners, by Indigenous status, 1992–2010 (per 100,000 population)

  • At 30 June 2010, 26 percent of prisoners were Indigenous.
  • Over the past four years, the rate of non-Indigenous imprisonment has remained, on average, at around 130 per 100,000 non-Indigenous population. Comparatively, the Indigenous imprisonment rate increased from 2,074 per 100,000 Indigenous population in 2007 to 2,327 per 100,000 Indigenous population in 2010; a total increase of 12 percent. A prisoner was 18 times more likely to be Indigenous than non-Indigenous.

Source: References 2 and 26

Federal prisoners

Figure 106: Federal prisoners, by sex, 2002–10 (n)

Federal prisoners, by sex, 2002–10 (n)

  • At 30 June 2010, there were 627 male and 145 female federal prisoners in Australian prisons. This equates to a male to female ratio of 4:1.
  • In 2002, there were only 74 female federal prisoners; therefore, the number of female federal prisoners in 2010 represented a 96 percent increase since 2002.
  • Conversely, the number of male federal prisoners has decreased by 10 percent compared with numbers in 2002 (693 male federal prisoners in 2002 compared with 627 in 2010).

Source: Reference 27

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 2007–08, 38 percent had returned to prison under sentence by 30 June 2010, while 44 percent were returned to corrective services (ie prison or non-custodial service orders).

Source: Reference 23

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 8: Detainees at 30 June 2010 previously imprisoned, by current offence and Indigenous status
Indigenous Non-Indigenous
n % n %
Homicide 460 61 2,333 32
AICI 2,496 75 3,275 53
Sexual assault 792 61 2,889 27
Robbery 659 70 2,190 58
UEWI 1,125 78 2,237 75
Theft 274 79 987 68
Illicit drug offences 130 56 3,020 33

AICI: Acts intended to cause injury

  • Differences exist between the proportion of non-Indigenous and Indigenous detainees who were previously imprisoned and the current offence they were serving. Particularly noticeable is that 61 percent of Indigenous prisoners currently serving time for sexual assault had previously been imprisoned, compared with 27 percent of non-Indigenous prisoners for the same offence.
  • Similarly, the proportion of non-Indigenous prisoners who had previously been imprisoned was noticeably smaller when compared with Indigenous prisoners for homicide (32% compared with 61%) and illicit drug offences (33% compared with 56%).
  • In no offence category were the proportions of non-Indigenous detainees who had been previously imprisoned greater than that of Indigenous detainees. However, the difference was only three percentage points between the two for UEWI.

Source: Reference 26

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

In Australia during 2009–10, an average of 57,518 offenders were serving community corrections orders on any given day—an increase of one percent from the number recorded in 2008–09. This corresponds to a rate of 334 per 100,000 adults (552 per 100,000 adult males and 120 per 100,000 adult females).

Source: References 2, 23 and 27

Figure 107: Average daily community corrections population, by sex, 2000–01 to 2009–10 (n)

Average daily community corrections population, by sex, 2000–01  to 2009–10 (n)

  • The female community corrections population declined between 2001–02 and 2006–07, where the numbers remained below 10,000. Since 2006–07, however, female community corrections population numbers have been rising by approximately one percent per year.
  • The largest population of male community corrections detainees was recorded in 2000–01 at 48,234. This figure had dropped in 2003–04 to 41,369 detainees, however in 2010 had risen again to 46,961 male detainees in community corrections.

Source: References 2 and 23

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 108: Average daily community corrections population, by type of order, 2008–09 to 2009–10 (n)

Average daily community corrections population, by type of order, 2008–09 to 2009–10 (n)

  • There was little change in the numbers of detainees on restricted movement and supervision orders between 2008–09 and 2009–10. In 2008–09, there were 665 detainees on restricted movement orders, compared with 608 in 2009–10. Similarly, there were 46,985 detainees on supervision orders in 2008–09, compared with 47,064 in 2009–10.
  • The number of detainees who were on a reparation order increased in 2009–10 by eight percent, rising from 12,872 in 2008-09 to 13,960.

Source: Reference 23

Figure 109: Successful completion of community corrections orders, by type of order, 2008–09 and 2009–10 (%)

Successful completion of community corrections orders, by type  of order, 2008–09 and 2009–10 (%)

  • The proportion of detainees who successfully completed community corrections orders increased across all types of orders in 2009–10. However, this increase was only one percentage point for each type of order, with restricted movement orders increasing from 78 to 79 percent in 2009–10, reparation orders increasing from 66 to 67 percent and supervision orders increasing from 74 percent in 2008–09 to 75 percent in 2009–10.

Source: Reference 23

Indigenous status

In 2009–10, 44,035 non-Indigenous and 10,853 Indigenous offenders served community corrections orders.

Figure 110: Average daily community corrections population, by Indigenous status, 2004–05 to 2009–10 (per 100,000 of that status)

Average daily community corrections population, by Indigenous status, 2004–05 to 2009–10 (per 100,000 of that status)

  • In 2009–10, the rate of Indigenous detainees in community corrections was 3,331 per 100,000 Indigenous population. This represented an increase of 14 percent on the 2007–08 rate, marking a deviation from the rates of preceding years, which until then had remained, on average, at around 2,895 per 100,000 Indigenous population.
  • In 2009–10, the rate of Indigenous persons serving community corrections orders was 13 percent higher than that of non-Indigenous persons (260 per 100,000 non-Indigenous population).

Source: References 2, 23 and 26

Juvenile detention centres

Until 2010, the AIC 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. In 2010, responsibility for these data transferred to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

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.

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 111 depicts the detention rate of male and female juveniles from 1981 to 2010, including those on remand and those sentenced.

Figure 111: Persons in juvenile detention centres, by sex, 1981–2010a (per 100,000 of that sex per year)

Persons in juvenile detention centres, by sex, 1981–2010  (per 100,000 of that sex per year)

a: Rates as at 30 June of each year

  • At 30 June 2010, nine percent of the juvenile detention population were female.
  • Despite fluctuating over the 20 year period and with a general increase in the number of male juveniles in detention since 2004, the rate of male juvenile detainees in detention is currently lower than that first recorded in 1981. In 1981, the rate of male juvenile imprisonment was 105 per 100,000, compared with 65 per 100,000 in 2010; this represents a 38 percent decrease between 1981 and 2010.

Source: Reference 28

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 2010, for each quarter.

Figure 112: Persons in juvenile detention centres, by Indigenous status, 31 March 1994 to 30 June 2010a (per 100,000 of that status per year)

Persons in juvenile detention centres, by Indigenous status,  31 March 1994 to 30 June 2010 (per 100,000 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

  • Since 1994, the rate of juvenile imprisonment has remained significantly higher for Indigenous juveniles than for non-Indigenous juveniles. The rate of imprisonment for non-Indigenous juveniles has not exceeded 20 per 100,000 since 1999. In 2010, non-Indigenous juveniles were imprisoned at a rate of 17 per 100,000, a 13 percent increase on last year’s rate.
  • The rate of imprisonment for Indigenous juveniles was highest in 2008 at 514 per 100,000. In 2009, the rate had fallen to 371 per 100,000, however, it rose by 16 percent in 2010 to 429 per 100,000. The rate of imprisonment of Indigenous juveniles is currently higher than it was 15 years ago in 1994.

Source: References 2, 26 and 28