20.09.17 ALRC INQUIRY HEARS OVERHAUL OF SENTENCING LAWS REQUIRED TO REDUCE INDIGENOUS INCARCERATION

ALRC INQUIRY HEARS OVERHAUL OF SENTENCING LAWS REQUIRED TO REDUCE INDIGENOUS INCARCERATION  

An overhaul of sentencing laws including repealing mandatory sentencing and taking into account an offender's Indigenous background would help to reduce levels of Indigenous incarceration, The NSW Bar Association says.

Released today, The NSW Bar Association submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission Inquiry into the incarceration rate of  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people proposes reforms including:

  • Amending state and territory sentencing laws "to expressly require courts to consider the unique systemic and background factors" affecting Indigenous offenders.
  • All levels of government "review provisions that impose mandatory and presumptive sentences with a view to repealing mandatory sentencing provisions".
  • Investment in alternative forms of sentencing, including community-based options, "to give effect to culturally appropriate, individualised justice in sentencing cases".

25 years ago I was a Commissioner on the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) which made 339 recommendations, including imprisonment as a last resort. Today I am appalled by the lack of action from the Government to implement these and other recommendations addressing the alarming rates of Indigenous people in custody.

Nationwide, the justice system is failing Indigenous offenders.

To address the justice gap we need to understand how the justice system interfaces with Indigenous people, and consider the factors which give rise to incarceration.  

We need community-driven and national strategies that empower communities to address the complex causes of incarceration and crime.

Labor awaits Australian Law Reform Commission’s final report in December.  

Any positive proposals which seek to address the national blight and shame of the Indigenous incarceration crisis should be given considerable weight by the Government.

WEDNESDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER 2017

 

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