Epidemic incarceration and justice reinvestment : it's time for change


Australia has alarming levels of incarceration of Indigenous peoples. The problem has not been adequately addressed since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, particularly in a climate in which State and Territory Governments wish to appear ‘tough on crime’. This article poses solutions in the form of Justice Reinvestment in which the diversion of funds from prison construction and operation is channelled into anti-recidivism programs in areas with high rates of criminal incidence and offender numbers. Justice Reinvestment programs emerged in high prison population states in the US and have enjoyed successes in helping to reduce detention rates and improve community conditions. This article explores epidemic incarceration, underlying causes, and the financial costs of such issues. It goes to explore the Justice Reinvestment model and its capacity to be applied to the Australian setting, particularly given the geographic differences in high incarceration areas. Using a discussion of programs that have worked in the Australian context, the article concludes that a piloting of Justice Reinvestment programs will build on currently initiated, community programs to more effectively address the issue of Indigenous overrepresentation in Australian prisons.

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This document has been sourced from the Indigenous Law Bulletin, previously known as the Aboriginal Law Bulletin, database published on Austlii (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/IndigLawB/). AustLII advises that it is not the copyright owner of the source documents published on AustLII and is not able to give permission for reproduction of those source documents (refer copyright policy disclaimer dated October 2010). Queries about copyright should be referred to the publisher - the Indigenous Law Centre and the University of New South Wales.