Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Royal Commission

The principal finding of this Royal Commission was that Aboriginal people died in custody in large numbers because they were in jail in such large numbers (over-represented by a factor of 10-20).

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There were many recommendations designed to reduce the numbers of Aboriginal people in custody, including:

  1. A series of recommendations (79-91) designed for diversion from police custody, including police practice of arrest being the sanction of last resort (87) and recognising in practice the entitlement to bail (89).
  2. A series of recommendations (92-121) to hold imprisonment as a last resort, including legislation to enforce prison as the last resort.
  3. A series of recommendations (62, 234-245) called Breaking the cycle: Aboriginal Youth, which was aimed at keeping young people out of formal legal processes and institutions (consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989).

Note: that when jail numbers as a whole rise, the number of Aboriginal prisoners (being an overrepresented group) rose even more.

Elliott Johnston (1991) National Report: Overview and Recommendations, Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, AGPS, Canberra

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