Combatting over-representation of Indigenous youth in the Queensland criminal justice system through 'justice reinvestment'



In recent years, the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Queensland courts have sought to rely on a range of ‘diversionary’ practices such as youth justice conferencing and cautioning as a response to the alarmingly high rates of over- representation of Indigenous youth in Queensland’s criminal justice system. The results of such practices have, on the whole, done little to curb the growing rates of Indigenous youth offending, particularly in remote and regional areas of the State. The problems with these practices is that often youth justice conferencing and cautioning are inaccessible and ineffective to Indigenous youth. This paper asserts that a further strategy that the Queensland Government and other relevant public institutional stakeholders should adopt is what is known as ‘justice reinvestment’ (JR). The growing JR movement in the US and Australia represents an opportunity for a fundamental shift in Governmental policy, whereby greater emphasis is given to formulating ‘front-end’ programs designed to alleviate the causes of youth offending. Under the broad definition of JR, public funds are directed into a diverse range of programs in the areas of education, health and community services for communities experiencing a high level of Indigenous juvenile offending. This paper looks at the current problem of over-representation of Indigenous youth offending in Queensland and puts forward various strategies associated with the JR initiative to combat this problem.

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