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Australia Inmate Death Rate Report ‘Cause for Concern,’ Official Says

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Australian prisoners face a greater risk of dying than jail inmates in South Africa, the United States or England, according to a government report released Friday.

The rate of death in Australian prisons between 1980-88 was 2.98 deaths per 1,000 prisoners annually, compared to South Africa (2.76), the U.S. (2.39) and England (1.48).

Of the 11 countries surveyed, only Finland (3.33), Canada (4.39) and Thailand (4.47) had higher rates, it said.

“While Australia does not have the highest rates of deaths in prison or police custody, the statistics are nevertheless a cause for concern,” said David Biles, author of the report, International Review of Deaths in Custody.

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The report found that of the four countries with reliable statistics on deaths in police custody, Australia rated second-highest.

Suicide was the most common cause of prison deaths in most countries, Biles said.


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