Author Don Weatherburn
Published November 2006
Report Type Affiliated publication
Subject Aboriginal / Indigenous Australians; Prisons and prisoners; Sentencing
Keywords Aboriginal, Over-Representation, Prison, Sentencing

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Three years ago we published an article (Weatherbum, Fitzgerald & Hua 2003) on Aboriginal over-representation in prison, in which we argued:
  1. That the leading cause of Aboriginal over-representation in prison is Aboriginal over-representation in crime.
  2. That, although the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) reports gave attention to both systemic bias and Aboriginal offending as causes of Aboriginal over-representation in prison, the dominant focus of scholarly attention since the RCIADIC report has been upon systemic bias in the law, the exercise of police discretion and the operation of the criminal justice system.
  3. That much of the money allocated by the Federal government to State and Territory governments in response to the Royal Commission recommendations has been directed at programs designed to alter police procedure or the operation of the criminal justice system.
  4. That diversionary policy has limited potential to reduce Aboriginal overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.
  5. That the best way to reduce Aboriginal over-representation in the criminal justice system is to tackle the underlying causes of Aboriginal involvement in crime (e.g. poor school performance, unemployment and substance abuse).