Friday, November 26, 2010
VICTORIA is leading the nation in yet another area: it provided virtually the entire growth in Australia's prison population in the year to September.
As law and order became a key theme of the election campaign, the number of Victorians behind bars grew by 169 or 3.8 per cent in the year while in the rest of Australia, the number of prisoners grew by just four, or 0.02 per cent.
Victoria still had the lowest rate of imprisonment of any state, with 0.11 per cent of its adult population locked up, compared with a national average of 0.17 per cent, peaking at 0.66 per cent in the Northern Territory.
All told, 28,843 Australians were in jail on an average day in the September quarter, with 4578 of them in Victorian jails.
The most startling figure is that 7467 prisoners, or 26 per cent, are Aborigines who comprise roughly 2 per cent of the adult population.
The Bureau of Statistics estimates that 2.3 per cent of all Aboriginal adults were in jail in the September quarter: 4.2 per cent of all Aboriginal men in the nation, and 0.4 per cent of all Aboriginal women.
Western Australia has the highest rate of incarceration, with 7.3 per cent of its Aboriginal men in prison, and 0.8 per cent of Aboriginal women.
In Victoria, 2.4 per cent of Aboriginal men were behind bars in September, and 0.2 per cent of women. Aborigines made up a fifth of the growth in the state's prison population over the year.