About No Bars Criminal Justice Services Contact No Bars

Prisoners in Australia

How many people are in Australian Prisons?

On the 30 June 20101

  • There were 29,700 people (sentenced and unsentenced) in Australian prisons - an imprisonment rate of 170 prisoners per 100,000 adult population.
  • 92% (27,472) of prisoners were male and 8% (2,228) were female.
  • 80% (23,863) of prisoners were born in Australia.
  • 26% (7,863) of prisoners were Aboriginal, which shows an imprisonment rate 14 times higher than the non Aboriginal community.
  • The median aggregate sentence length was three years. That is, the longest period someone may be detained under a current sentence.
  • The median age of prisoners was 33.45 years, unchanged since 2008.
  • 67% of all prisoners were aged between 20 and 39 years.
  • 21% (6,367) of prisoners were unsentenced (held on remand).
  • Over half (55%) recorded that they had served a sentence in an adult prison prior to the current episode.

Numbers on the Increase

  • Overall, prisoner numbers increased 36% between 30 June 1999 and 30 June 20092.
  • Over the same 10-year period, the number of male prisoners increased by 35% (from 20,181 to 27,192) and the number of female prisoners increased by 57% (from 1,137 to 2,125).3

"The facts that increasing numbers of people with poor educational backgrounds, mental and financial capacity find themselves imprisoned, and when released have even less capacity to negotiate their way around society successfully and are quickly returned to prison, are evidence of failures of social and human services and of increasing inequity."

Baldry, E. 20082


See Prisoners in NSW for more information.

Back to top



References:

A selection of the references used in No Bars along with other related publications can be found on the Research And Publications page.

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010) Prisoners in Australia, 4517.0, www.abs.gov.au
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009) Prisoners in Australia, 4517.0, www.abs.gov.au
  3. Baldry, E. (2008) "The Booming Industry: Australian Prisons", Submission to Debate October 2008


"The facts that increasing numbers of people with poor educational backgrounds, mental and financial capacity find themselves imprisoned, and when released have even less capacity to negotiate their way around society successfully and are quickly returned to prison, are evidence of failures of social and human services and of increasing inequity."

Baldry, E. 20083