Australia’s incarceration rates are at their highest levels in 120 years despite a significant drop in crime, a new report has found.

Federal Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh has released a research paper outlining the impacts of what he describes as the country’s “second convict age”. Australia’s incarceration rate is now 0.22 per cent, which is the highest it has been since 1899, and higher than the rate in Canada and the UK. Dr Leigh’s analysis of ABS data shows Australia’s Indigenous incarceration rate, at 2.5 per cent, is higher than the incarceration rate of African-Americans. Among Indigenous men born in the 1970s, a quarter have been to prison. Western Australian research suggests that nine in 10 have been arrested. The climb in prison rates started in about 1985 and has taken place across all states and territories.

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