Persons under corrective services
As mentioned in Chapter 5, there is a variety of sentencing options available to the courts. Corrective service authorities manage the offenders placed under the sentencing options of imprisonment, community corrections and periodic detention.
- Seven out of 10 offenders managed by corrective service authorities were placed in community-based programs.
- Twenty-six per cent of offenders served a sentence in prison. Seventy-one per cent of prisoners were held in secure prisons.
- Periodic detention orders are only available to offenders in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
Source: Reference 7.
A national census of adult prisoners is taken on 30 June each year. The Australian Institute of Criminology began this collection in 1982, and conducted the censuses annually until 1993. This role was then taken over by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1994. The latest prison census was conducted in 2000.
Prisoners in 2000
A total of 21 714 persons were in custody in Australian prisons on the night of 30 June 2000, an increase of 1% on the number recorded in 1999. This corresponds to a rate of 148 per 100 000 adult persons. Of these, 17 929 were sentenced prisoners and 3 785 were remandees.
- Ninety-four per cent of all prisoners were male.
- Two-thirds of all prisoners were aged less than 35 years.
- For both males and females, 18-24-year-olds and 25-34-year-olds had the highest imprisonment rates in 2000.
Most serious offence
Offenders can be sentenced to a prison term for one or a number of offences. The offence for which a prisoner is categorised as being incarcerated is the offence that is deemed most serious.
* Also includes misappropriation.
** Includes motor vehicle theft.
*** Includes extortion, property damage and driving offences.
- The main offences for which male offenders were sentenced included break and enter, robbery and sex offences. For female offenders the main offences included drug offences, fraud and robbery.
- Male prisoners sentenced for the violent offences of homicide, assault, sex offences and robbery accounted for almost half of all sentenced male prisoners in 2000, whereas for females only one-third of sentenced prisoners were incarcerated for violent offences.
- These patterns have remained relatively stable between 1999 and 2000.
Trends in prison populations
It should be noted that the prisoner counts can include both sentenced prisoners and those on remand (unsentenced).
- Between 1983 and 2000 the overall imprisonment rate increased from 92 to 147 per 100 000 adult population. The prison population has grown by an average 5% a year since 1983.
- At 30 June 2000, sentenced prisoners accounted for 83% of the total prisoner population.
- The number of prisoners who were remanded in custody (awaiting trial or sentence), increased between 1999 and 2000 from 22 to 26 per 100 000 relevant population.
Figure 81 depicts the imprisonment rate of male and female persons (line graph and left axis) and the ratio of male rates to female rates (bar graph and right axis), from 1983 to 2000.
- Between 1983 and 2000, the overall imprisonment rate for males increased from 178 to 280 per 100 000 relevant population. The rate declined in 2000 relative to 1999 (283 per 100 000 relevant population).
- The female rate of imprisonment was seven per 100 000 in 1983 and 19 per 100 000 in 2000. Just over 6% of all prisoners were women.
- The number of male and female prisoners increased annually by an average of 4% and 8% respectively over the entire 17-year period.
- The ratio of male to female imprisonment rates declined from 25 in 1983 to 15 in 2000.
Figure 82 depicts the imprisonment rate of Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons (line graph and left axis) and the ratio of Indigenous rates to non-Indigenous rates (bar graph and right axis). These data include both sentenced prisoners and remandees.
Note: Rate calculations for Indigenous and non-Indigenous adult prisoners are based on the 'high-series' of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population projections. This accounts for the effects of increased propensity to identify as Indigenous between the 1991 and 1996 censuses.
- The level of Indigenous over-representation within the total prisoner population increased between 1991 and 1999. A decline was recorded in 2000.
- The decline in Indigenous over-representation was due to a decline in the rate of Indigenous imprisonment between 1999 and 2000. The rate of non-Indigenous imprisonment remained stable over this period.
- On 30 June 2000, the Indigenous imprisonment rate was 12 times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous prisoners.
- Indigenous prisoners comprised 19% of the total prisoner population in 2000 (1991: 14%).
Most serious offence
Violent prisoners are those convicted of homicide, assault, sex offences and robbery. Prisoners convicted of property offences include those charged with break and enter and with other theft (including motor vehicle theft).
Figure 83 depicts the percentage of sentenced prisoners convicted of violent offences (line graph and left axis) and the ratio of the rate of imprisonment for violent offences to the imprisonment rate for property offences (bar graph and right axis).
- The percentage of prisoners sentenced for violent offences increased from 45% in 1983 to 51% in 1993 and declined to around 47% thereafter.
- Prisoners sentenced for violent offences outnumbered those sentenced for property offences. The ratio between the two populations increased from 1.5 in 1983 to 2.5 in 1999, but declined to 2.1 in 2000.
Community corrections comprise a variety of non-custodial programs, which vary 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 continued supervision.
- In Australia during 1999-2000, there were 58 979 offenders per day (on average) serving community correction orders, an increase of 7% on the number recorded in 1998-1999.
- This corresponds to a rate of 401 per 100 000 adults.
- Males accounted for about 81% of the community corrections population in 1999-2000.
Community corrections orders are classified into three main categories:
- restricted movement orders (e.g. home detention);
- reparation orders (e.g. fine options, community service); and
- supervision (compliance) orders (e.g. parole, bail, sentenced probation).
* Excludes Victoria.
- Supervision orders are the most commonly used option, with 31 966 offenders under supervision orders in 1999-2000 (excluding Victoria). This represents an 18% increase on the number recorded in 1998-1999.
- Reparation orders are also common, with 25 362 offenders serving this option in 1999-2000 (excluding Victoria), a decline of 3% on the number recorded in 1998-1999.
Figure 93 shows the average expenditure per case lodgment in the criminal courts. The higher the level of court, the more expensive each criminal case lodgment becomes. This is because the more complex and lengthy cases are tried in the higher courts.
* Excludes Victoria.
- On average, 67% of all community corrective orders were successfully completed in 1999-2000.
- In 1999-2000, restricted movement orders had the highest percentage of successful completion (79%), while reparation orders had the lowest (63%).
- On average, 45 569 non-Indigenous offenders and 6 528 Indigenous offenders were serving community corrections orders in 1999-2000 (excluding Victoria).
- In 1999-2000, the Indigenous community corrections rate was six times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous offenders.
- The community corrections rate for Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons increased slightly between 1998-1999 and 1999-2000.
Juvenile corrective institutions
The Australian Institute of Criminology has maintained a collection on the number of persons detained in juvenile corrective institutions since 1981. It is a count of the number of persons detained in institutions on the last day of each quarter.
Trends in juvenile corrective institution population
Given the differences among jurisdictions regarding the definition of a juvenile, statistics are shown for people aged between 10 and 17 years. Figure 87 depicts the imprisonment rate of male and female juveniles (line graph and left axis) and the ratio of male incarceration rates to female rates (bar graph and right axis), from 1981 to 2000.
- Between 1981 and 2000, the overall incarceration rate declined from 65 to 32 per 100 000.
- The number of male and female persons detained in juvenile corrective institutions declined by an average annual rate of 3% and 6% respectively, between 1981 and 2000.
- Between 1981 and 1995, males were increasingly over-represented in juvenile correctional institutions. With the exception of 1998, a decline in the level of male over-representation has been recorded since 1996.
- In 2000, the male incarceration rate was almost nine times higher than the rate for female juveniles.
- Just over 10% of all persons incarcerated in juvenile corrective institutions were female in 2000, compared to 17% in 1981.
Data on incarcerated persons by Indigenous status has been made available since 1993. Figure 88 depicts the incarceration rate of Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons (line graph and left axis) in juvenile corrective institutions, and the ratio of Indigenous rates to non-Indigenous rates (bar graph and right axis), from 30 September 1993 to 31 December 2000 for each quarter.
- The total number of Indigenous persons in juvenile corrective institutions on 31 December 2000 was 239. This represents 41% of the total number of persons detained in juvenile corrective institutions.
- The rate of Indigenous incarceration in the December quarter of 2000 (267 persons per 100 000) was the lowest recorded since 1993.
- This incarceration rate was almost 16 times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous juveniles.
- The rate of Indigenous incarceration increased between 1993 and 1997, whereas the rate for non-Indigenous persons remained stable.
- Since 1998, the rate of Indigenous detention has declined much faster than the rate for non-Indigenous persons.