Australian Punishment Sex Ratio Parallels Prison Sex Ratio

face of a prisoner

Punishment sex ratios for Australia are not available prior to 1876. Punishment statistics aggregate different forms of life-disposing punishment, e.g. executed persons and persons in prison, as persons absent in punishment. Execution statistics enter that calculation for the expected remaining years of life at the average age of persons executed. For Australia, executed men and women lost 34 and 39 expected years of life, respectively. Hence, to calculate punishment sex ratios prior to 1876, executions by sex are needed prior to 1837. Those statistics are not available. Since the execution rate in Australia was then relatively high, and the population was highly skewed toward males, making good estimates of executions by sex isn’t feasible for those years.

Australia’s historical punishment sex ratio from 1876 largely parallels the sex ratio of prisoners in Australia. In 1876, 10% of absence in punishment was persons who had been executed, and 90% was persons in prison. The punishment sex ratio adjusted for the population sex ratio was 4.7. That figure is only slightly higher than the population-adjusted sex ratio for persons in prison, 4.2. Executions accounted for only 7% of absence in punishment from 1885 to 1920, and then dropped to 2% by 1930. Large swings in the twentieth-century prisoner sex ratio dominate any effects of the sex ratio of persons absent from being executed. Hence the punishment sex ratio parallels the sex ratio of persons in prison.

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