The health and well-being of people in prison are also those of the community. People in contact with the criminal justice system have higher rates of homelessness and unemployment and often come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.
People leaving prison are members of society needing employment, housing, health care, and other support services in the community to maintain and improve health and well-being, and reduce the likelihood of returning to prison.
On 30 June 2018, there were about 43,000 people in Australia’s prisons. Most people in prison were either on remand (32%), or serving sentences under 5 years in length (62%), and thousands of people cycle through the prison system each year (ABS 2018a).
People in prison have significant and complex health needs, which are often long-term or chronic in nature. They have higher rates of mental health conditions, chronic disease, communicable disease, acquired brain injury, tobacco smoking, high-risk alcohol consumption, recent illicit drug use, and recent injecting drug use, than the general population (AIHW 2015). Improving the health and well-being of people in prison, and maintaining those improvements after prison, benefits the entire community.
This report presents the results of the 5th National Prisoner Health Data Collection (NPHDC), which was conducted in 2018.