Department of Justice is now the Department of Communities and Justice.  Find out more >

cjb55.pdfcjb55 
 AuthorJoanne Baker 
 PublishedMarch 2001 
 Report typeCrime and Justice Bulletin No. 55 
 SubjectAboriginal / Indigenous Australians, Offenders, Prisons and prisoners, Sentencing 
 Keywordsindigenous Australians, imprisonment, criminal justice system, convictions, over-representation 
  
 

Download this publication

  
Full report (pdf)
  
Media release

Summary

Aim

Aim
This bulletin provides new information on the over-representation of indigenous persons in the NSW court system and on the offence profile and penalties imposed on indigenous and non-indigenous offenders.

Abstract

Abstract
The over-representation of indigenous Australians in prison continues to be a serious problem, even a decade after the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody were handed down. The gaps in our knowledge about indigenous persons in the criminal justice system, however, have made it difficult to gauge where efforts to reduce indigenous imprisonment might be best placed. This bulletin provides new information on the over-representation of indigenous persons in the NSW court system and on the offence profile and penalties imposed on indigenous and non-indigenous offenders. The findings indicate that the over-representation of indigenous persons stems initially from their higher rate of appearance at court, but is amplified at the point of sentencing, with indigenous offenders sentenced to imprisonment at almost twice the rate of non-indigenous persons. The violent nature of indigenous convictions and the greater likelihood of indigenous persons having prior convictions were found to contribute to their higher rate of imprisonment. These findings suggest that the greatest leverage for reducing indigenous imprisonment rates appears to lie in reducing the rate at which indigenous persons appear in court rather than in reducing the rate at which convicted offenders are sentenced to imprisonment.