Victoria's Prison Population

Since 1871, Victoria’s prison population has shown an overall increasing trend characterised by large fluctuations, sometimes influenced by major world events.

The prison population declined from a peak of 1,901 in 1891 to a low of 635 in 1919. This followed World War I and the influenza pandemic of 1918-19. The prison population then climbed during the next decade, peaking at 1,488 in 1932, before falling again to reach 912 in 1948, shortly after the end of World War II.

The prison population did not surpass its previous high from 1891 until 1962. From then it continued climbing to a new high of 2,389 in 1971. This was followed by a sharp decline over the next six years, during which the prison population dropped by 38% to 1,488 in 1977. Since then, it has continually increased, reaching 7,149 on 30 June 2017.

Number of people in Victoria’s prisons from 1871 to 2017

Hover over the line in the graph to display the number of people imprisoned for each year.  Use the range slider below the graph to zoom in on specific years of the data. Double click on the graph to reset.

Sources: A. Freiberg and S. Ross (1999), Sentencing Reform and Penal Change: The Victorian Experience (The Federation Press); Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017), Prisoners in Australia, Cat. No. 4517.0 (external link opens in a new window).