18 May 2015
The number of people in NSW jails who have been refused bail rose by almost a quarter (from 2,819 to 3,476) in the six months following the September 2014 “toughening” of the state’s bail laws. This has produced a record number of 11,363 adult NSW prisoners in the State’s jail system.
Once again we see that Aboriginal people are grossly over-represented in NSW prisons. The figures show that 53% of all juvenile inmates are Aboriginal and this is despite the fact that just 2.5% of young people in NSW are Aboriginal.
This means Aboriginal children are 44 times more likely to be in jail than their non-Aboriginal counterparts.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“Late last year the Coalition and Labor joined together to degrade this state’s bail laws in response to yet another law and order campaign run by radio shock jocks and tabloid newspapers.
“They removed the presumption of innocence and greatly expanded the list of offences where bail is automatically refused.
“The NSW prison system, and ultimately taxpayers, are now seeing the results of last year’s law and order auction with the number of people in jail because they have been refused bail surging.
“Every day an adult spends in a NSW jail cost taxpayers an average of $240.
“The increase in the remand population alone is already costing $157,680 per day and will deliver a $57.5 million blowout in the NSW prison budget.
“These costs will almost certainly expand to cope with the increasing overcrowding in NSW prisons.
“Every dollar spent on new jails is a dollar that can’t be spent on hospitals, schools and public transport.
“Once again we have seen Aboriginal people bearing the brunt of these law changes.
“The NSW government should be hanging its head in shame at the fact that young Aboriginal people are 44 times more likely to find themselves in jail than their non-Aboriginal counterparts.
“The main reason the number of Aboriginal young people being jailed has surged is the new bail laws are seeing more and more bail refusals.
“We need to make a collective commitment to addressing this gross discrimination against Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system.
“Turning these figures around requires a commitment to justice reinvestment that will spend scarce tax dollars on better schools, healthcare and social services rather than just more and more jails,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Media Contact: David Shoebridge 9230 3030