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Report on Government Services 2021

Part C, Section 8: released on 22 January 2021

8 Corrective services

Impact of COVID-19 on data for the Corrective services section

COVID-19 may affect data in this Report in a number of ways. This includes in respect of actual performance (that is, the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery in 2020 which is reflected in the data results), and the collection and processing of data (that is, the ability of data providers to undertake data collection and process results for inclusion in the Report).

Government lockdowns introduced by State and Territory Governments in the early part of 2020 in some jurisdictions impacted the number of people being received into and discharged from prison in the last four months of 2019-20. These impacts may potentially flow through to indicators on prison utilisation and costs per day to various extents in jurisdictions depending on the length and scale of lockdowns experienced. COVID-19 also impacted on movement within facilities, time-out-of-cells, education and training, employment and community corrections.

Some specific footnoting identifies some additional technical matters in the data tables which may be applicable to individual jurisdictions.

This section reports on prison custody and a range of community corrections orders and programs for adult offenders which are delivered separately by the eight states and territories.

The Indicator Results tab uses data from the data tables to provide information on the performance for each indicator in the Indicator Framework. The same data in the data tables are also available in CSV format.

Skip to downloadable Corrective services data tables and supporting material

  • Context
  • Indicator Framework
  • Indicator Results
  • Indigenous Data

Objectives for corrective services

Corrective services aim to contribute to the protection and creation of safer communities through the effective management of offenders and prisoners, commensurate with their needs and the risks they pose to the community, by providing:

  • a safe, secure and humane custodial environment
  • appropriate management of community corrections orders
  • programs and services that address the causes of offending, maximise the chances of successful reintegration into the community, and encourage offenders to adopt a law abiding way of life.

Governments aim for corrective services to meet these objectives in an equitable and efficient manner.

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Service overview

The operation of corrective services is significantly influenced by, and in turn influences, other components of the criminal justice system such as police services and courts. The management of prisoners and of offenders serving community corrections orders is the core business of all corrective services agencies. However, the legislative frameworks governing and impacting on corrective services, for example sentencing acts, vary widely. The scope of the responsibilities of these agencies also varies, for example, functions administered by corrective services in one jurisdiction may be administered by a different justice sector agency in another, such as the management of prisoners held in court cells.

This section reports on the performance of corrective services, which include prison custody and a range of community corrections orders and programs for adult offenders1 (for example, parole and community work orders). Both public and privately operated correctional facilities are included; however, the scope of this section generally does not extend to:

  • youth justice (reported on in section 17, Youth justice services)
  • prisoners or alleged offenders held in forensic mental health facilities to receive psychiatric care (who are usually the responsibility of health departments)
  • prisoners held in police custody (reported on in section 6, Police services)
  • people held in facilities such as immigration detention centres.
  1. Adult offenders in prison and community corrections are aged 18 years and over in all Australian states and territories.

Roles and responsibilities

Corrective services are the responsibility of State and Territory governments, which may deliver services directly, purchase them through contractual arrangements or operate a combination of both arrangements. All jurisdictions maintained government operated prison facilities during the reporting period while private prisons operated in five jurisdictions (NSW, Victoria, Queensland, WA and SA).

Community corrections is responsible for administering a range of non-custodial sanctions and also manages prisoners who are released into the community and continue to be subject to corrective services supervision. These services vary in the extent and nature of supervision, the conditions of the order (such as a community work component or a requirement to attend an offender program) and the level of restriction placed on the offender’s freedom of movement in the community (for example, home detention).

No single objective or set of characteristics is common to all jurisdictions’ community corrections services, other than that they generally provide a non-custodial sentencing alternative or a post-custodial mechanism for reintegrating prisoners into the community under continued supervision. In some jurisdictions, community corrections responsibility includes managing offenders on supervised bail orders. Table 8.1 shows the range of sanctions involving corrective services that operated in each jurisdiction during the reporting period.

Funding

Nationally in 2019-20, expenditure (net of revenues) on corrective services was $3.88 billion for prisons and $0.76 billion for community corrections2 (table 8A.1). Expenditure plus depreciation (matching expenditure reporting by other justice sector agencies) was $5.09 billion – a real increase of 5.1 per cent from 2018-19 (table 8A.2). Changes in expenditure need to be considered in the context of the growth in corrective services populations over time.

  1. This expenditure is net of operating revenues and excludes capital costs (depreciation, user cost of capital and debt service fees), payroll tax, and expenditure on transport/escort services and prisoner health. Some jurisdictions are unable to fully disaggregate transport costs and/or health expenditure from other prison operating costs. See table 8A.1 for detailed definitions, footnotes and caveats.

Size and scope

Prison custody

Corrective services operated 115 custodial facilities nationally at 30 June 2020, comprising 88 government operated prisons, 10 privately operated prisons, four transitional centres, and thirteen 24-hour court cell complexes (holding prisoners under the responsibility of corrective services in NSW) (table 8A.3).

On average, 43 009 people per day were held in Australian prisons during 2019-20, of which 81.6 per cent were held in secure facilities (table 8A.4). A daily average of 8823 prisoners (20.5 per cent of the prisoner population), were held in privately operated facilities during the year. Nationally, female prisoners represented 8.0 per cent of the daily average prison population, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners represented 29.0 per cent of the daily average population.

In 2019-20, the national imprisonment rate was 216.4 per 100 000 people in the relevant adult population (figure 8.1). While this represents an increase of 29.3 per cent since 2010-11 (figure 8.1) it is also the first annual decrease nationally in the 10 years of reported data. The rate for males (405.3 per 100 000 males) was over 11 times the rate for females (34.2 per 100 000 females) (table 8A.5).

The national crude imprisonment rate per 100 000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 2385.1 in 2019-20 compared with a rate of 156.0 for the non-Indigenous population (table 8A.5). Comparisons of imprisonment rates should be made with care, especially for states and territories with relatively small Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. Small changes in prisoner numbers can cause variations in rates that do not accurately represent either real trends over time or consistent differences from other jurisdictions.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has a younger age profile compared with the non-Indigenous population, which contributes to higher crude imprisonment rates. After adjusting for differences in population age structures, the national age standardised imprisonment rate per 100 000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in 2019-20 was 1934.7, compared with a corresponding rate of 165.6 for the non-Indigenous population (figure 8.2). Therefore, after taking into account the effect of differences in the age profiles between the two populations, the national imprisonment rate for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is 11.7 times greater than for the non-Indigenous population. Rates that do not take age profile differences into account are 15.3 times greater.

While imprisonment rates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, whether calculated on a crude or age standardised basis, are higher than those for the non‑Indigenous population, the majority of prisoners are non‑Indigenous. Ten year trends in daily average numbers and rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non‑Indigenous prisoners are reported in table 8A.6.

Community corrections

Nationally, on a daily average, there were 16.1 offenders for every one (full time equivalent) community corrections staff member in 2019‑20 (table 8A.7). Nationally, an average of 82 871 offenders per day were serving community corrections orders in 2019-20 (table 8A.8), with female offenders representing 19.5 per cent of the offender population (higher than the proportion in the prison population), and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders representing 21.2 per cent of the offender population (lower than the proportion in the prison population).

In 2019-20, the national crude community corrections rate was 416.9 per 100 000 relevant adult population. This is higher than the rate of 326.7 in 2010-11 (figure 8.3). The rate for female offenders was 160.0 compared with 683.1 for male offenders (table 8A.5).

The national crude rate for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 3366.5 offenders per 100 000 relevant adult population, compared with 327.7 for the non-Indigenous population (table 8A.5). After adjusting for differences in population age structures, the rate per 100 000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in 2019‑20 was 2700.7, compared with a rate of 331.9 for the non-Indigenous population (figure 8.4). Therefore, after taking into account the effect of differences in the age profiles between the two populations, the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community corrections rate is eight times greater than for the non-Indigenous population. Rates that do not take age profile differences into account are 10 times greater.

As with prisoners, comparisons should be made with care because small changes in offender numbers in jurisdictions with relatively small Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations can cause variations in rates that do not accurately represent either real trends over time or consistent differences from other jurisdictions. Ten year trends are reported in table 8A.9.

The performance indicator framework provides information on equity, efficiency and effectiveness, and distinguishes the outputs and outcomes of corrective services.

The performance indicator framework shows which data are complete and comparable in this Report. For data that are not considered directly comparable, text includes relevant caveats and supporting commentary. Section 1 discusses data comparability and completeness from a Report-wide perspective. In addition to the service area's Profile information, the Report’s statistical context (Section 2) contains data that may assist in interpreting the performance indicators presented in this section.

Improvements to performance reporting for corrective services are ongoing and will include identifying indicators to fill gaps in reporting against key objectives, improving the comparability and completeness of data and reviewing proxy indicators to see if more direct measures can be developed.

Outputs

Outputs are the actual services delivered (while outcomes are the impact of these services on the status of an individual or group) (see section 1). Output information is also critical for equitable, efficient and effective management of government services.

Outcomes

Outcomes are the impact of services on the status of an individual or group (see section 1).

Indicator frameowkr

An overview of the Corrective services performance indicator results are presented. Jurisdictional differences in service delivery settings, geographic dispersal and prisoner/offender population profiles have an impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of correctional service systems.

Information to assist the interpretation of these data can be found in the Corrective services interpretative material and data tables. The figures use data from the data tables. Data tables are identified by a ‘8A’ prefix (for example, table 8A.1).

All data are available for download as an excel spreadsheet and as a CSV dataset — refer to Download supporting material. Specific data used in figures can be downloaded by clicking in the figure area, navigating to the bottom of the visualisation to the grey toolbar, clicking on the 'Download' icon and selecting 'Data' from the menu. Selecting 'PDF' or 'Powerpoint' from the 'Download' menu will download a static view of the performance indicator results.

Performance indicator data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this section are available in the data tables listed below. Further supporting information can be found in the interpretative material and data tables.

Corrective Services data disaggregated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Table number Table title
Table 8A.10 Prisoner employment by Indigenous status
Table 8A.17 Deaths from apparent unnatural causes by Indigenous status, number and rate per 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander/non-Indigenous prisoners
Table 8A.21 Completion of community corrections orders (per cent)

Download supporting material