The AIHW currently collects data on the health of prisoners in Australia through a national survey of public and private prisons. Prisoners have higher levels of mental health problems, risky alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, illicit drug use, chronic disease and communicable diseases than the general population. This means that prisoners have significant and complex health needs, which are often long-term or chronic in nature.

More reports and statistics on prisoners can be found under Youth justice.

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Latest findings

3 in 4 prison entrants are current smokers

2 in 3 prison entrants used illicit drugs in the previous year

People in the community were 2–4 times as likely as prison entrants to have seen doctor in the previous 12 months

More than 7 in 10 (72%) women entering prison had previously been incarcerated

27% of women entering prison were in short-term or emergency accommodation in the 30 days prior to incarceration

Almost one-quarter (24%) of women entering prison were unemployed in the 30 days prior to incarceration