Why are Indigenous Imprisonment Rates Rising?


Between 2001 and 2008 the adult Indigenous imprisonment rate rose by 37% in Australia and 48% in New South Wales. This paper looks at the reasons behind this rise in New South Wales. The evidence suggests that most of the increase is due to increased severity by the criminal justice system in its treatment of Indigenous offenders. One quarter of the increase has come from remandees and three quarters from sentenced prisoners. The increase in the number of remandees appears to be due to a greater proportion of Indigenous defendants being refused bail and an increase in the time spent on remand. Similarly, the number of sentenced Indigenous prisoners has increased because more Indigenous offenders are receiving a prison sentence and for longer periods. With the possible exception of offences against justice procedures, it does not appear that the increase in imprisonment is due to increased offending.

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