Aboriginal Deaths In Custody

Length: 11 Pages 2655 Words

Question 4/ The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in the period between October 1987 and November 1990 investigated the deaths of ninety nine Aboriginal individuals which occurred in police and prison custody in the prior nine years and five months. The report was the first of it’s kind, so broad in its study of the issues relating to the Indigenous community. The report revealed many damning facts including: 1)Aboriginal people were the most disadvantaged group in Australia, 2) recognising the injustices committed by the white settlers upon the Aboriginals, and its consequences to the current Aboriginal condition, and 3) Aboriginal are the highest represented group within our prisons and have the highest death in custody rate. In tandem with these findings, the Commission published a total of 339 recommendations which would, if implemented assist in pulling Aboriginal statistics out of the red. However, more than a decade later, it is important to look at whether there has been change, whether there have been implementations, and if these have made substantial changes in figures and standards. Findings of the Report The Royal Commission attributed the most prominent cause of the over-representation in Continue...


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Reports were focussed on details; some taking on the quality of a well-written list. In response to government policies in favour of mandatory sentencing, ATSIC and many other organizations iterated that combating problems of crime by Aboriginal people should be targeted at the grass roots, instead of at the top, meaning through addressing problems such as lack of employment and inadequate facilities rather than taking a strict police approach. These statistics reveal a major failure in policies aimed at implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission. One such policy which has received wide indignation, both domestically and internationally has been the policy of Mandatory Sentencing which has been imposed in Western Australia and Northern Territory. The Royal Commission recommended three pre-requisites to bridge the socio-economic divide. Between 1988 and 1998, the incarceration rate of Indigenous people had more than doubled, increasing at an average of 6. For example, a 22-year-old Aboriginal woman with no previous convictions was sentenced to 14 days imprisonment for stealing a can of beer and an 18- year-old indigenous man served 14 days for admitting to police that he stolen a cigarette lighter for 1. This was deemed necessary due to the lack of economic base as a result of the past injustices cast upon them. While these are indeed legitimate issues, they are reported in a very negative manner, often pointing the blame on Aboriginal people as the root of the problem, rather than discussing why such a problem exists. Generally, in terms of implementation, one could argue that the recommendations of the Royal Commission have been a complete failure when glancing at statistics: "Of total deaths in custody last year, Aboriginal people made up about 28. Duty of care has now become a primary component off all relevant in-service courses which are conducted by the Police Academy. The Reconciliation process has brought the Aboriginal issues to the forefront, and more and more Australians are taking an interest in action, often in the right steps. Furthermore, in the Northern Territory, a person aged 15 or 16 who has been convicted of a relevant property offence and has had at least one prior conviction for such a crime is subject to 28 days of detention.