Monday, May 27, 2013

Prisons fill with indigenous people - Inga Ting Sydney Morning Herald May 27, 2013

Every day in Australia, 30,000 people wake up in a jail. Statistically, one of those people dies every six days.
Last week the Australian Institute of Criminology delivered its long-awaited report into deaths in custody. Its national deaths in custody program was established after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in recognition that timely, accurate data was crucial to reducing the unacceptably high number of deaths in our prison and police systems.
That this report is not months but years late is a snub to the importance of that goal. A decade ago, the program was delivering its reports within days of the close of the reporting period - the 2003, 2004 and 2005 reports were delivered within one month. Then, without explanation, each of the next three reports took between 16 months and two years to appear. The 2009-11 report has been almost 3½ years in the making……
The government's press release - with the Orwellian title ‘20 Years on - Improvements in death-in-custody rates but more to be done’ - labelled the report as ‘encouraging’ and ‘welcomed … findings that death-in-custody rates have decreased significantly in the past decade’ and are ‘some of the lowest recorded’.
But that was spin. The truth is that rates of death are only low because rates of incarceration are at a record high. In fact, the actual number of indigenous deaths in prison is on the rise, with the number in 2009-10 (14 deaths) equal to the highest on record…….
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