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Chapter 6: Corrections

Corrective services in this chapter includes 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, 2010–11a

Offenders by type of corrective program, 2010–11

a: Figures based on average daily population (prisons and community corrections)

b: Includes periodic detention (available only in the Australian Capital Territory)

Note: n=85,223

  • In 2010–11, there were 56,056 offenders in community-based corrective programs, which accounted for 66 percent of all offenders in any corrective program. Conversely, 34 percent of offenders were in prison (n=29,167)

Source: Reference 21

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 29,106 persons were in custody in Australian prisons on 30 June 2011—a two percent increase on the number recorded in 2010. This corresponds to a rate of 167 per 100,000 of the adult population, which is three percent lower than the 2010 rate. Of these prisoners, 22,383 were serving sentences, while 6,723 were on remand awaiting trial.

Source: Reference 24

From 1 October, 2010, periodic detention was discontinued in New South Wales and replaced with Intensive Correction Orders. These are an alternative to custodial sentences where the offender serves their time (a maximum of 2 years) within the community, performing community services (Reference 26). Previously, individuals serving time in periodic detention would have been recorded as part of the number of offenders serving time in prison. This change is likely to affect the long-term trend and therefore should be considered when accounting for any decrease.

Trend in prison population

Figure 101 Prisoners, 1984–2011 (per 100,000 population)

Prisoners, 1984–2011 (per 100,000 population)

  • In the past 10 years, the rate of prisoners has increased overall by eight percent, rising from 154 per 100,000 population in 2001 to 167 in 2011. This trend was most noticeable in terms of the rate of prisoners on remand, which has increased by 30 percent during the same time period.
  • The rate of sentenced prisoners decreased by five percent between 2010 and 2011. Specifically, the rate of sentenced prisoners was 135 per 100,000 population (a 1% decrease on the rate in 2010). In 2011, this rate had declined to 128 per 100,000.

Source: References 2 and 24

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, sexual 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 2011, the MSO for which 11,287 prisoners were sentenced was a violent offence. There were 3,413 prisoners whose MSO was a property offence and 7,683 prisoners who were sentenced for other MSOs.

Figure 102 Prisoners sentenced by most serious offence type, 1986–2011 (%)

Prisoners sentenced by most serious offence type, 1986–2011 (%)

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

  • Violent offences were committed by 51 percent of prisoners sentenced in 2011. Compared with the proportion recorded in 2001, this represents an increase of four percentage points.
  • The proportion of prisoners sentenced for a MSO involving property crime decreased by one percentage point between 2010 and 2011, while other offences increased by less than one percentage point.

Source: Reference 24

Table 9 Most serious offence of prisoners sentenced in 2011 by sex
Male Female
n % n %
Violent
Homicide 2,146 10 187 12
Assault 3,432 17 220 14
Sexual offences 3,075 15 42 3
Robbery 2,082 10 103 7
Property
Break and enter 2,452 12 105 7
Other thefta 735 4 121 8
Other
GSJb 2,165 10 155 10
Drug offences 2,140 10 260 17
Fraud 469 2 172 11
Otherc 2,160 10 162 11
Total 20,856 100 1,527 100

a: Includes motor vehicle theft

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

  • The ratio of males to females sentenced in 2011 was approximately 14 to one.
  • A greater proportion of females were sentenced for homicide (12%) compared with males (10%).
  • In terms of property and other offences, males were more often sentenced for break and enter (12%) compared with female offenders.
  • A greater proportion of males were sentenced for assault (17%) and sexual offences (15%) than any other most serious offence. Females were sentenced more often for drug offences (17%) than any other crime.

Source: Reference 24

Sex

Figure 103 Prisoners by sex, 1984–2011 (per 100,000 of that sex)

Prisoners by sex, 1984–2011 (per 100,000 of that sex)

  • Between 2009 and 2011, the rate of male imprisonment decreased. Between 2009 and 2010, the rate declined by two percent from 328 per 100,000 population to 323. In 2011, the rate decreased a further three percent to 314 per 100,000 population. However, in total, the 2011 rate represents an increase of 84 percent on the imprisonment rate recorded in 1984 (170 per 100,000 population).
  • The rate of female imprisonment has also increased, particularly over the last 10 years. In 2001, the rate was 20 per 100,000 population. The rate increased by approximately three percent per year between 2001 and 2010, rising to 26 per 100,000 population in 2010. In 2011, however, the rate of female imprisonment decreased by 10 percent to 23 per 100,000 population.

Source: References 2 and 24

Figure 104 Prisoners by age group and sex, 2011 (per 100,000 of that age group and sex)

Prisoners by age group and sex, 2011 (per 100,000 of that age group and sex)

  • Across all age groups, the rate of male imprisonment was significantly greater than that of females. However, both rates were greatest in the 25–34 year age group, where males were imprisoned at a rate of 575 per 100,000 population and females at a rate of 46 per 100,000.
  • For males, the age group with the second highest rate of imprisonment was the 18–24 year age group who were imprisoned at a rate of 454 per 100,000 population. For females, however, the age group with the second highest rate of imprisonment was the 35–49 year olds. In this age group, females were imprisoned at a rate of 32 per 100,000 population.
  • For both sexes, the rate of imprisonment for persons aged under 18 years was less than two per 100,000 population.

Source: References 2 and 24

Indigenous status

Figure 107 shows the imprisonment rate of Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) and non–Indigenous persons.

Figure 105 Prisoners by Indigenous status, 1992–2011 (per 100,000 population)

Prisoners by Indigenous status, 1992–2011 (per 100,000 population)

  • In 2011, 74 percent of prisoners were of non-Indigenous backgrounds.
  • However, Indigenous offenders are imprisoned at a much higher rate than non-Indigenous offenders. This trend has been evident over the 20 year recording period. In 2011, the rate of imprisonment of Indigenous offenders was 18 times higher at 2,276 per 100,000 population than the rate of 125 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous offenders.
  • In the past three years, both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous imprisonment rates have been in decline. Between 2009 and 2010, the rate of Indigenous offender imprisonment decreased by three percent, while the rate of imprisonment for non-Indigenous offenders decreased by four percent.

Source: References 2 and 24

Federal prisoners

Figure 106 Federal prisoners by sex, 2002 to 2011 (n)

Federal prisoners by sex, 2002 to 2011 (n)

  • In 2011, there were a total of 874 federal prisoners and 15 percent of these were female.
  • The number of male federal prisoners has increased significantly over the past four years. In 2008, there were 562 male federal prisoners. In 2011, this number had increased by 32 percent to 741.

Source: Reference 25

Recidivism

One measure of recidivism is the rate of return to prison, which has remained stable in Australia over the past five years of data collection. Of those prisoners released in 2008–09, 40 percent had returned to prison under sentence by 30 June 2011, while 46 percent were returned to corrective services.

Source: Reference 21

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

Table 10 Detainees previously imprisoned by selected current offences and Indigenous status, at 30 June 2011
Indigenous Non–Indigenous
n % n %
Homicide 486 58 2,346 32
AICI 2,480 76 3,108 51
Sexual assault 806 60 2,856 26
Robbery 706 68 2,088 57
UEWI 1,135 78 2,106 76
Theft 254 81 865 67
Illicit drug offences 106 68 3,184 34
Totala 7,656 74 21,425 48

a: Total also includes dangerous and negligent acts endangering persons, abduction, harassment and other offences against the person, fraud, deception and related offences, prohibited and regulated weapons and explosives offences, property damage and environmental pollution, public order offences, traffic and vehicle regulatory offences, offences against justice procedures, government security and operations, miscellaneous offences and cases where the offence was unknown

  • Of the 486 Indigenous prisoners serving time for homicide in 2011, over half had a history of prior imprisonment. Conversely, only 32 percent of non-Indigenous prisoners serving time for the same offence had a history of prior imprisonment.
  • Across all offence categories, the history of prior imprisonment was higher for Indigenous prisoners than non-Indigenous prisoners. However, the proportions were similar for prisoners serving time for UEWI.
  • Aside from UEWI, the proportion of non-Indigenous prisoners with a history of prior imprisonment was greater for theft than any other offence (67%).

Source: Reference 24

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 that chapter weekend detention and home detention are considered custodial sentences, this chapter includes them as community-based sentences.

In Australia during 2010–11, an average of 56,056 offenders were serving community corrections orders on any given day—a decrease of three percent from the number recorded in 2009–10. This corresponds to a rate of 321 per 100,000 adults, with 532 per 100,000 adult males and 114 per 100,000 adult females.

Source: References 2, 21 and 26

Figure 107 Average daily community corrections population by sex, 2000–01 to 2010–11 (n)

Average daily community corrections population by sex, 2000–01 to 2010–11 (n)

  • In 2010–11, the average daily community corrections population decreased by two percent, from 57,518 in 2009–10 to 56,056.
  • Eighteen percent of the average community corrections population in 2010–11 were females. This equates to a ratio of males to females in community corrections of approximately five to one.
  • Over the past 11 years, the average daily community corrections population has remained below the figure recorded in 2000–01 (n=59,733). However, between 2006–07 and 2009–10, there was an increase in the overall trend. Specifically, the population increased from 52,658 in 2006–07 to 57,518 in 2009–10, or 10 percent over four years.

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 108 Average daily community corrections population by type of order, 2009–10 to 2010–11 (n)

Average daily community corrections population by type of order, 2009–10 to 2010–11 (n)

  • In line with the decrease in the overall community corrections population, the number of prisoners serving each type of order also decreased. Most noticeably, the number of individuals serving reparation orders declined from 13,960 to 13,100—a total decrease of six percent.
  • Despite there being significantly fewer of individuals serving time on restricted movement orders, this number also decreased by six percent in 2010–11. Specifically, in 2009–10, there were 608 people on restricted movement orders compared with 570 in 2010–11.
  • Seventy-seven percent (n=59,881) of the average daily community corrections population were serving supervision orders in 2010–11.

Source: Reference 26

Figure 109 Successful completion of community corrections orders by type of order, 2009–10 and 2010–11 (%)

Successful completion of community corrections orders by type of order, 2009–10 and 2010–11 (%)

  • In 2010–11, the proportion of individuals completing restricted movement orders increased by two percentage points from 79 percent to 81.
  • Conversely, the proportion who completed reparation orders in 2010–11 declined by three percentage points from 67 percent to 64. The proportion who completed a supervision order decreased marginally by one percentage point from 72 percent to 71.

Source: Reference 26

Indigenous status

In 2010–11, 43,790 non-Indigenous and 10,854 Indigenous offenders served community corrections orders.

Figure 110 Average daily community corrections population by Indigenous status, 2002–03 to 2010–11 (per 100,000 of that status)

Average daily community corrections population by Indigenous status, 2002–03 to 2010–11 (per 100,000 of that status)

  • Indigenous persons have been consistently overrepresented in the average daily community corrections population compared with non-Indigenous people.
  • Between 2006–07 and 2009–10, the rate of Indigenous prisoners in community corrections increased from 2,924 per 100,000 population to 3,330; a total increase of 14 percent. By comparison, the rate of non-Indigenous prisoners in community corrections decreased by two percent, from 265 to 261 per 100,000 population.
  • In 2010–11, Indigenous prisoners were serving time in community corrections at a rate of 3,227 per 100,000 population and were over 12 times more likely to be serving time in community corrections than non-Indigenous prisoners.

Source: References 2, 21 and 24

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. 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. The detention rate of male and female juveniles from 1981 to 2011 is depicted in Figure 111, including those on remand and those sentenced.

Figure 111 Persons in juvenile detention centres by sexa, 1981–2011 (per 100,000 of that sex per year)

Persons in juvenile detention centres by sex, 1981–2011 (per 100,000 of that sex per year)

a: Rates as at 30 June of each year

  • Male juveniles have been incarcerated at a much higher rate than female juvenile offenders. The rate of juvenile male incarceration recorded in 2011 (63 per 100,000 population) is 40 percent lower than that recorded in 1981.
  • In 2002, the juvenile male incarceration rate was the lowest on record, at 44 per 100,000 population.
  • In 2011, eight percent of the juvenile prison population was female. Since 1988, the rate of female juvenile incarceration has remained below 10 per 100,000 population and in 2011, this rate was six per 100,000.

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 corrective institutions, from 31 March 1994 to 30 June 2011, for each quarter.

Figure 112 Persons in juvenile detention centres by Indigenous status, 31 March 1994 to 30 June 2011a (per 100,000 of that status per year)

Persons in juvenile detention centres by Indigenous status, 31 March 1994 to 30 June 2011 (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

  • On 30 June 011, 52 percent of the juvenile prison population were of Indigenous background.
  • The rate of incarceration of Indigenous juveniles is currently five percent higher than that recorded in 1994. Between these two years however, the rate has fluctuated. Specifically, the rate was lowest in the year 2000 at 272 per 100,000 population and peaked in 2008 at 514.
  • In 2011, the rate of incarceration of Indigenous juveniles was 400 per 100,000 population. Therefore, Indigenous juveniles were 23 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous juveniles.
  • Conversely, the rate of non-Indigenous juvenile incarceration has remained below 20 per 100,000 population for the last 12 years. In 2011, there were 383 non-Indigenous juveniles in prisons; a rate of 18 per 100,000 population non-Indigenous juveniles.

Source: References 2, 24 and 27