Incarceration rates for Aboriginal people out of control 

28 March 2018

An Australian Law Reform Commission report into rapidly escalating incarceration rates of Aboriginal people is a damning indictment of a system that is broken, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) said today.

The report found that Aboriginal men were 14.7 times more likely to be jailed than non-Aboriginal men. Alarmingly, Aboriginal women were 21.2 times more likely to be jailed than non-Aboriginal women.

NSWALC Chair Roy Ah-See said the time for talking was over and implored governments to commit to alternatives to incarceration like community sentencing and justice reinvestment.

Cr Ah-See also called on the NSW Government to reverse its decision to pull the plug on a proposal for a Walama Aboriginal sentencing court. 

"The NSW Aboriginal Land Council - the largest member-based Aboriginal organisation in Australia - wrote to the NSW Government to endorse the Walama Court.

"To hear from justice advocates last week that there was no NSW Government money for the Aboriginal sentencing court was appalling given the upsurge in incarceration rates.

"In the 27 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, governments have fed billions of dollars into incarceration which has led to soaring imprisonment rates and needless loss of life.

"Last week, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research released figures detailing a 74 percent increase in the number of Aboriginal women in custody in NSW prisons.

"Too many Aboriginal people are living with the trauma of having families torn apart and picking up the pieces as people's lives are needlessly destroyed. Governments need to take a close look at the destruction these incarceration rates are causing to our communities and implement community-based alternatives to prison."

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Media contact: Andrew Williams 0429 585 291