Australian Prisons: Recent Findings and Frightening Yet Legal Police Actions

Disturbing facts pertaining to Australian prisons have caught the media’s attention. Many issues have come to light relating to the Australian prison system and how police are ignoring Australian laws.


Australian prison news and the disturbing findings


There are a large number of troubling findings regarding Australian prisons and news’ stories have been rampant with reports. Some of the questions and topics raised include:

  • Why is there an increase in the number of people being imprisoned?
  • Why is the rate of women and Indigenous people being imprisoned, occurring at a RATE faster than others?
  • disparities existing when analysing prison statistics
  • harrowing reports of seemingly unlawful acts being committed, like police not even following legal procedures
  • frightening facts relating to investigations via intelligence gathering technology
  • surveillance initiatives that are apparently in accordance with current laws


If you’re reading this wondering whether you accidentally misread the country of origin, only to be outraged when realising that this is occurring in Australia, you’re not alone. Australian prison news is a popular topic and it’s easy to understand why the Australian public has taken such an active interest.


The Sydney morning herald published an article Why there are more prisoners but fewer crimes being committed In less than 24 hours after it was published, readers began actively participating in the discussion. Australian radio stations have also featured the breaking news as part of their top news’ stories.

Why are more people being imprisoned in Australia?

What do Australian prison statistics reveal and female prisoners australia?


Recent statistics reveal that there has been a 30% increase in the number of Australians being sent to prison. The obvious question is why are more people being put in prison, especially when the number of crimes committed has decreased?

According to a government publication, the NSW Government is taking action to address the State’s growing prison population. However, it seems that there are a number of actions the government has taken that do not reflect our values of fairness.

What’s even more troubling is the disparity that exists when one analyses the statistics. The number of women being imprisoned has increased substantially and disproportionately.


Australian prison population by race

The findings also revealed that Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islander people were between 12 and 16 times more likely to be imprisoned than the non-indigenous population. While non-indigenous Australians still represent the vast majority of those imprisoned, the aforementioned is a cause for grave concern.


Over-imprisonment of Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders

The Guardian reported that the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is “a national tragedy”. It’s easy to understand why “people are damaged by criminal justice systems”. The term Justice systems implies a fair system and yet all evidence points to the contrary. Is the Australian criminal ‘justice system’ really the antithesis of this term?

These troubling statistics make an already precarious situation even more alarming. Why is this happening in 2019 and how can this be happening in Australia?!

To better understand how these changes have occurred, it’s important to examine some of the laws that are responsible for this situation.

Unlawful police power, going to jail NSW and over-policing

“Over-policing” of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is an issue that was highlighted by Redfern Legal Centre head of police accountability and government law, Samantha Lee. Ms Lee cited tougher bail laws, more police powers and the Suspect Targeting Management Plan (STMP), that’s unique to NSW, as reasons for the inequity.

Lawyer and advocate Samantha Lee identified that NSW police were unlawfully strip searching Australians. It was for this reason that the RLC began the ‘Safe & Sound’ campaign, in order to stop the high number of police strip searches. These questionable NSW searches revealed that many of the people subjected to these practices, “were left feeling humiliated, scared and traumatised”. What’s even more disturbing is that “nothing was found on them and police failed to follow correct legal procedure.”


When people’s legal rights are so heavily infringed upon, it’s no wonder why our justice system is being called into question.

Gaol Australia and the technology used to monitor Australians


The Guardian reported that the purpose of intelligence gathering technology is to target people suspected of being likely to commit crime

This is reminiscent of Spielberg’s sci-fi thriller “Minority Report”, in which preemptive tactics were used to reduce crime rates.

While this film is fictitious, it’s extremely disturbing to think that the NSW law enforcement watchdog is actually sanctioning such initiatives. How can this be legal? Children as young as 10 years old are being monitored “despite them not having committed any crime”.

Prison surveillance: Is this actually legal in Australia?

New laws would allow any criminal in jail suspected of posing a terror-threat to be put under surveillance. What happened to the basic tenet of ‘innocent until proven guilty’?

The US government has been accused of similar wrongdoings since 9/11 and most Australians vehemently disagree with the practices. It’s a constant topic of discussion, as to whether or not the rights of the society outweigh the rights of the individual in matters of ‘homeland protection’. This definitely begs the question whether our legal rights are in jeopardy, given these new Australian laws.

Do you think Australians are even aware that this is occurring ‘in our own backyards’?

Share your thoughts with the SCB Legal blog community below and have your voice heard!


SCB Legal values its loyal Law blog community and we invite you share your thoughts and get involved in the discussion. 


  1. Judy Berryman

    No Australian aren’t aware of what’s going on in our legal system and our prisons the rate of young men white and indigenous that are being locked up for petty offences there doing longer sentences than child molesters and my son does all his time in 23/ hour lock down remand and his sentence time they are making our young men institutionalised a system that dnt work a system that is made to fail heads on beds for profit no rehabilitation programs at all my son has never done one course his been in out since he was 16 his now 28

    • Sionea

      Hi Judy,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I absolutely agree with you; our system are failing our young people. There are very limited programs available in prison and it is often the case that they are moved around too quickly before they get a chance to start, finish or at least even obtain some benefit from the program.
      They are treated inhumanely and I don’t think people realise the consequences this has on people; society are oblivious and of the view that they should be treated poorly and live inhumanely. This is not how they should be treated at all! Having their liberty taken from them is their punishment and they do not deserve further poor treatment.
      People are being bail refused for minor offences because of the change in our bail laws which I personally believe are ridiculous. The notion of innocent until proven guilty has almost disappeared and people feel they are guilty until proven innocent because this is how they are treated.
      We need to change our focus to rehabilitation so that we can teach them and support them to reintegrate into society and be contributing members; it’s not impossible but people give up on them too quickly.
      I could go on forever about all the flaws but in a nutshell I agree with you 100%.
      If you would like to receive notifications for our upcoming blogs, please subscribe to our law blog.
      Thank you,
      SCB Legal

    • Kim

      That’s so sad!!! Hopefully people will read what you’ve written and this issue will go viral, so these types of horrific injustices get media attention.

      • Sionea

        We hope to too Kim.
        If you could assist in spreading the word and sharing our post, that would be great.
        Thank you,
        SCB Legal


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