The Indigenous incarceration inquiry today announced by the Federal Government is a symbolic recognition of our broken criminal justice system, but comes 25 years after the ground-breaking report from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was handed down. The bulk of these recommendations have still not been implemented.
Just last month the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research released a report showing that from 2001 to 2015 every step of the criminal justice system, from police to courts, is delivering higher rates of Aboriginal incarceration, despite falling crime rates.
Greens MP and Aboriginal Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“This is a belated recognition from the Commonwealth Government that there is a problem, and that is welcome, but another inquiry isn’t necessary. We know what is broken and it’s time to fix it.
“All the evidence shows that from arrest to charge to bail to court to jail, Aboriginal people face a biased criminal justice system.
“We don’t need another inquiry, we need an urgent implementation of all of the recommendations from Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody that were handed down more than 25 years ago.
“The long term solution is a change in politics, and a change in focus from jailing in our first people to investing in their success through justice reinvestment
“You don’t need an inquiry to reinstate the millions of funding cut from Aboriginal legal services. Restoring that funding must be a priority.
“In NSW there is a package of legislative reforms that could be immediately implemented that would significantly reduce Aboriginal imprisonment rates. This starts with reforming aggressive bail laws and winding back a raft of discretionary police powers, from move on directions to consorting orders.
“This is a national crisis. Pushing it off to yet another inquiry and to a body that does not have Royal Commission powers is a far from adequate response.” Mr Shoebridge said.