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Previous studies have found that the health of people in the correctional system is generally poorer than in the general population.

The National Prisoner Health Data Collection gathered information from prison entrants, dischargees, prisoners visiting the prison health clinic, and prisoners taking prescribed medication. A prison entrant is someone who entered prison during the 2-week period in which the National Prisoner Health Data Collection was conducted. A prison dischargee is someone who is expecting to be released from prison within the next 4 weeks after the National Prisoner Health Data Collection was conducted. From this information, a picture of the health of Australia's prison population can be determined.

For more information see The health of Australia's prisoners 2015 (November 2015).

On 30 June 2014, there were almost 33,000 people behind bars in Australia.


Infographic showing 3 in 10 prison entrants and dischargees are Indigenous.

3 in 10

prison entrants and dischargees are Indigenous.


2 in 3 prison entrants have not studied past Year 10 PNG

2 in 3

prison entrants have not studied past Year 10

and only 16% have completed Year 12.

Infographic showing 1 in 2 prison entrants were unemployed in the 30 days before prison entry.

1 in 2

prison entrants were unemployed in the 30 days before prison entry

and 1 in 4 were homeless in the 4 weeks before entering prison.


Infographic showing 1 in 3 prison entrants have a chronic health condition.

1 in 3

prison entrants have a chronic health condition.

Asthma was the most common condition (1 in 4 entrants).


1 in 2 prison dischargees' health improved in prison PNG

1 in 2

prison dischargees said their health got better while in prison.

For Indigenous dischargees,  this was 3 in 5

3 in 4 prison entrants are smokers

3 in 4

prison entrants are smokers.

This is over 5 times the rate of the general population.

Half of these smokers would like to quit.


2 in 3 prisoners used illicit drugs prior to prison

2 in 3

prison entrants used illicit drugs in the 12 months prior to prison.


2 in 5 prison entrants drank alcohol at risky levels PNG

2 in 5

prison entrants drank alcohol at risky levels before prison.

This was more than half for Indigenous entrants.


1 in 4 prisoners received medication for mental health issues PNG

1 in 4

prisoners received medication for mental health related issues while in prison.


1 in 3 prison entrants have a chronic health condition PNG

1 in 3

prison entrants had a long-term health condition or disability limiting daily activities, or restricting participation in education or employment.