The latest custody figures released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show a significant drop in the female prison population. As at June 2019, there were 946 adult women in custody. This is an 11.3% decrease or 121 fewer women in prison compared with the previous 12 months.
Specifically, the number of Aboriginal women in prison fell by an even greater margin, decreasing 19.5% or by 72 individuals over the same time period.
The figures also suggest that the long-term growth in the imprisonment rate in NSW has finally started to slow. Over the last five years, the prison population increased from under 10,000 in June 2013 to an all-time high of 13,651 in May 2018. However, since then, the adult prison population declined by 1.7% and has stabilised at about 13,400 prisoners. The most recent fall is due to a decrease in the number of sentenced prisoners.
Contrary to the overall trend, the number of Aboriginal men in prison increased 2.4% over the last year (from 2,991 in June 2018 to 3,063 in June 2019).
Commenting on the findings Jackie Fitzgerald, Acting Executive Director BOCSAR, was pleased to see sizeable reductions in the number of women in prison given the upward trend in recent years. “Between 2013 and 2018 the female prison population increased by nearly 50%, a much larger increase than we saw among male prisoners (up 28% over the same period). We now have fewer than 1000 women in prison for the first time since 2016.”