A young Aboriginal child is up to 56 times more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system, according to a new report from BOCSAR today evidencing what can only be called a systemically racist criminal justice system.
The report shows the age Aboriginal children are first subject to the criminal justice system is substantially lower than non-Aboriginal children, starting at age 10 and peaking at age 14. By the time Aboriginal people reach the age of 33 one in eight will have received a custodial sentence compared to just one in fifty non-Aboriginal people.
This is a national disgrace and the Greens are calling for the criminal system to be radically overhauled to address the grossly disproportionate number of Aboriginal children facing police, courts and prisons.
Greens MP and Aboriginal Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“When 10 year old Aboriginal kids 56 times more likely to be subject to the criminal justice system, what more proof do we need that the system is seriously broken.
“This is the very real impact of a secret police watch list and discretionary police powers like consorting laws, move on powers and public order offences that are disproportionately directed at Aboriginal people.
“When kids this young are being subject to the police, the courts and the prison system, they are being set up to fail.
“This report shows that once kids come into contact with the criminal justice system they can be 7.5 times more likely to be dragged into court again.
“After 230 years of invasion our Parliaments have created a system of structural disadvantage where Aboriginal people are the most incarcerated people in the world and continue to die in custody.
“We have a criminal justice system that secretly watches Aboriginal kids as young as 10, an out of home care system that takes Aboriginal kids from their families and a public housing system with chronic housing shortages.
“We need a radical overhaul of what can only be called a systemically racist criminal justice system and this starts with ensuring that young people are never in jail in the first place.
“A lesson on how the system should work is the Maranguka Community Hub in Bourke and its enormous success in reducing domestic violence and juvenile offending, increasing school attendance rates and helping people get their drivers license.
“Public money needs to be spent on a justice reinvestment to strengthen community and break the cycle of crime and disadvantage.
“It is one month out from the NSW budget, this government needs stop spending billions more dollars on new prisons and commit to justice reinvestment projects across the state.
BOCSAR report ‘Offending over the life course: Contact with the NSW criminal justice system between age 10 and age 33’ http://www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/Pages/bocsar_news/bb132-Offending-over-the-life-course.aspx