Arresting incarceration : pathways out of Indigenous by Don Weatherburn

By Don Weatherburn


Despite sweeping reforms by way of the Keating executive following the 1991 Royal fee into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the speed of Indigenous imprisonment has soared. What has long past unsuitable? In Arresting incarceration, Dr Don Weatherburn charts the occasions that ended in royal fee. He additionally argues that previous efforts to minimize the variety of Aboriginal Australians in legal have did not appropriately deal with the underlying factors of Indigenous involvement in violent crime; specifically drug and alcohol abuse, baby forget and abuse, negative college functionality and unemployment.  Read more...

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The biggest contributor to the growth in Indigenous imprisonment is the category of ‘acts intended to cause injury’. 1 per cent of the growth in Indigenous prisoner numbers, more than twice as much as the next nearest offence category — unlawful entry with intent (viz. 7 per cent of the overall growth. 4 per cent of the growth. g. 8 per cent of the growth. 5 per cent). Looked at in the aggregate, three groups of offences account for almost all the growth in Indigenous imprisonment between 1992 and 2012, most (60 per cent) came from offences against the person, imprisonment for property crime accounted for 15 per cent and imprisonment for justice procedure and related offences accounted for about 10 per cent.

Reay (1945, p. 300) reports that the number of Aboriginal people convicted of drunkenness in Walgett rose from 11 in 1934 to 111 in 1943. Hunter (1993, p. 91) reported that in the decades following the repeal of prohibition ‘almost all’ Aboriginal males in the Kimberly tried drinking. In some areas Indigenous alcohol abuse may have begun to fuel local economies, making it even harder for Aboriginal people and outside authorities to break the vicious cycle (Hunter 1993, p. 91). McKnight (2002) provides a vivid first-hand description of what happened when a canteen selling alcohol was opened in 1976 on Mornington Island: 15 ARRESTING INCARCERATION The day of the official opening coincided with the opening of the library.

Sutton was absolutely searing in his indictment of romantic liberal assumptions about the conditions of life in remote Indigenous communities arguing that, far from being places where Aboriginal people peacefully engaged in traditional cultural pursuits, they were in fact places suffering from an ‘epidemic of interpersonal violence, especially sexual violence toward women and children, including the elderly and infants’ (Sutton 2001, p. 145). His concerns were supported by a range of survey data.

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