Courts and sentencing
The NSW Law Reform Commission's report Sentencing: Aboriginal offenders and the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC discuss the underlying issues that give rise to the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice. The RCIADIC report stressed that the most important factor is the 'socially, economically and culturally disadvantaged position of many Aboriginal people'.
Other factors to be considered are that:
- Indigenous people are more likely to be in court for minor offences and receive shorter sentences
- Any contact with the criminal justice system increases the likelihood of recidivism and further contact with the criminal justice system.
The Law Reform Commission's report notes that the NSW Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee considers several factors in that state that further increase the likelihood of involvement with the police and courts, including truth in sentencing, increased police powers, the continuing criminalisation of offensive language and policies aimed at targeting recidivists.
Examples of assistance at court for Indigenous people are:
Sentenced prisoners : Indigenous and non-Indigenous
Adapted from: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2003, Prisoners in Australia : Indigenous sentenced prisoners, cat. no. 4517.0
Why are Indigenous imprisonment rates rising?
Jacqueline Fitzgerald, New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. 2009
NSW Attorney General's Department : evaluation of circle sentencing program report
Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia, Sydney : Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia. 2008
Equality before the law (PDF 2.5MB)
Judicial commission of NSW, 2006
Aboriginal cultural awareness benchbook for Western Australian courts
Stephanie Fryer-Smith. Australian Institute of Judicial Adminstration, 2002
Mandatory sentencing chronology 1901-2002
Australian Parliamentary Library, 2002
Aboriginal people and the criminal justice system: comparison of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cases finalised in the Magistrates Courts and Higher Courts of South Australia 1998 (PDF 201kB)
Office of Crime Statistics, South Australia, 2000
The Penalties and Sentences and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2000: input of community justice groups in sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders (PDF 192kB)
Cathy Green, Queensland Parliamentary Library, 2000
Sentencing and Indigenous peoples
Rick Sarre and Digby Wilson, roundtable proceedings, 1998
Reports on Aboriginal witnesses and police watchhouses : status of recommendations (PDF 339kB)
Queensland Criminal Justice Commission, 1997