Violence victimisation among people released from prison

Ms Melissa Willoughby1,2, Ms Claire  Keen1, Dr Jesse  Young1,2, A/Prof Matthew  Spittal1, A/Prof Rohan  Borschmann1,2, Ms  Emilia  Janca1, Prof Stuart  Kinner1,2

1The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
2Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia

Background: People who have had contact with the criminal justice system are also likely to have been a victim of crime, including from violence. We examined the incidence and predictors of violence victimisation after release from prison, and investigated differences according to sex and Indigenous status

Methods: Baseline data were collected from 1,325 people within six weeks of release from prisons in Queensland, Australia (2008-2010). Data were linked to health, death and prison records until July 2012. Predictors were identified using a multivariable Andersen-Gill model. Differences according to sex and Indigenous status were investigated using effect modification.

Results: 225 (18.2%) people experienced 410 violence victimisation events that were recorded in health records. The incidence was 12.8 per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval [95%CI] 11.7, 14.1). Risk factors included diagnosed mental illness (hazard ratio [HR]=2.0, 95%CI 1.0, 3.9), substance use disorder (HR=1.6, 95%CI 1.1, 2.4) or dual diagnosis (HR=3.3, 95%CI 2.2, 4.9); high-risk alcohol use (HR=2.0, 95%CI 1.4, 2.7); being Indigenous (HR=1.8, 95%CI 1.2, 2.5); and two or more prison releases (HR=1.8, 95%CI 1.2, 2.7). Indigenous status modified the risk of violence victimisation, with Indigenous men having a greater risk of non-Indigenous men (HR=1.9, 95%CI 1.3, 2.8).

Conclusions: Approximately 1 in 5 people released from prisons in Queensland, Australia experienced violence victimisation. Co-ordinated and continuous mental health and substance use treatment from prison to the community may reduce the risk of violence victimisation in this population.

Learning Objectives: We will provide previously unavailable evidence on violence victimisation among people released from prison and will discuss implications for prison release health planning.


Melissa Willoughby is an early career researcher specialising in violence prevention and the health of marginalised populations with expertise in quantitative and qualitative methods. She is a PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne examining violence-related deaths and morbidity among adults and young people involved in the criminal justice system. Melissa is supported by a competitive National Health and Medical Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship. She also holds a Research Assistant position at the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.


Dec 09 2021