Indigenous Australia 's Criminal Justice System

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While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Indigenous Australians) represent only about 3% of the total population of Australia, in 2013, they comprised over 27% of Australia 's prison population (an increase from 25% in 2009). In the same year, the incarceration rate for Indigenous Australian prisoners was 15 times higher than the rate for their non-Indigenous counterparts, an increase in the ratio compared to 2011 (when it was 14 times higher) (ABS, 2013). It is evident from statistical data, that there is a clear over-representation of Indigenous Australians in Australia’s criminal justice system. The figures are even more startling for Indigenous youth, who are 25 times more likely to be in detention than their non-Indigenous…show more content…
While the cause of indigenous over-representation in prison remains a complex and contentious issue, it will not be the focus of this essay. Instead, this essay will assess programs and policies which have been proposed as measures to limit or reduce Indigenous incarceration rates. In general, programs and policies either aim to divert offenders from being imprisoned (diversion), reduce recidivism/ repeat offending (rehabilitation) or prevent indigenous people from committing crime at all (early intervention). This essay will discuss programs for indigenous adults but will direct significantly more attention to juvenile offenders. It will be reasoned that programs, which target the underlying causes of indigenous crime, have the greatest potential to reduce indigenous offending and re-offending.

Restorative justice incorporates a number of programs which serve to primarily address the needs of the victims, the offenders (who must admit to their offence) and the needs of the wider community, rather than to simply enforce punishment or satisfy abstract legal principles (Daly & Nancarrow, 2010). Diversion schemes, a branch of restorative justice, include courses of action which prevent juvenile offenders from entering or continuing in the criminal justice system. Diversion can occur at most points
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