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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.

Prison entrants

This summary focuses on information collected from prison entrants and prison dischargees. A prison entrant is someone who entered prison during the 2-week period in which the National Prisoner Health Census 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 Census 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 2012 (2013).

On June 30 2012, there were almost 30,000 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.


Infographic showing 3 in 4 prison entrants have not studied past Year 10.

3 in 4

prison entrants have not studied past Year 10

and only 17% 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 3 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).


Infographic showing 2 in 5 prison dischargees said their health got a lot better while in prison.

2 in 5

prison dischargees said their health got a lot better while in prison.

For Indigenous dischargees, this was more than half.

Infographic showing 4 in 5 prison entrants are smokers.

4 in 5

prison entrants are smokers.

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

Half of these smokers would like to quit.


Infographic showing 1 in 3 prison dischargees planned to quit smoking while in prison.

1 in 3

prison dischargees planned to quit smoking while in prison.

A quarter of them were successful.


Infographic showing 7 in 10 prison entrants used illicit drugs in the 12 months prior to prison.

7 in 10

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


Infographic showing 1 in 2 prison entrants drank alcohol at risky levels before prison.

1 in 2

prison entrants drank alcohol at risky levels before prison.

This was about 3 in 5 for Indigenous entrants.


Infographic showing 1 in 5 prison dischargees were offered treatment for mental health issues while in prison.

1 in 5

prison dischargees were offered treatment for mental health issues while in prison.