Australian Institute of Criminology

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Deaths in private prisons 1990-99: a comparative study

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 120

David Biles and Vicki Dalton
ISBN 0 642 24114 7 ISSN 0817-8542
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, June 1999


A number of deaths have raised the issue of whether private prisons are more dangerous for inmates at risk. This paper examines numbers of deaths both in absolute terms and in terms of rates per 1000 prisoners per year. The paper shows that: public and private prisons have similar death rates for all causes of death, including suicide; and death rates are higher in prisons which house remand and reception prisoners rather than long term prisoners.