Tuesday 7 July, 12pm-1pm
Constructing a new series of incarceration rates from 1860 to 2018, Australia now incarcerates a greater share of the adult population than at any point since the late nineteenth century. Much of this increase has occurred since the mid-1980s. Since 1985, the Australian incarceration rate has risen by 130 percent, and now stands at 0.22 percent of adults (221 prisoners per 100,000 adults). Recalculating Indigenous incarceration rates so that they are comparable over a long time span, Dr Andrew Leigh finds that incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians have risen dramatically. Fully 2.5 percent of Indigenous adults are incarcerated (2481 prisoners per 100,000 adults), a higher share than among African-Americans. The recent increase in the Australian prison population does not seem to be due to crime rates, which have mostly declined over the past generation. Instead, higher reporting rates, stricter policing practices, tougher sentencing laws, and more stringent bail laws appear to be the main drivers of Australia’s growing prison population.
Dr Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, and Federal Member for Fenner in the ACT. Prior to being elected in 2010, Andrew was a professor of economics at the Australian National University. He holds a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard, having graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in Arts and Law. Andrew is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and a past recipient of the 'Young Economist Award', a prize given every two years by the Economics Society of Australia to the best economist under 40. His books include Disconnected (2010), Battlers and Billionaires (2013), The Economics of Just About Everything (2014), The Luck of Politics (2015), Choosing Openness: Why Global Engagement is Best for Australia (2017), Randomistas: How Radical Researchers Changed Our World (2018) and Innovation + Equality: How to Create a Future That Is More Star Trek Than Terminator (with Joshua Gans) (2019). Andrew is a keen marathon runner, and hosts a podcast titled "The Good Life: Andrew Leigh in Conversation", which is available on Apple Podcasts.