Australian Institute of Criminology

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Indigenous deaths in custody

Introduction

The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) defined a death in custody as a death, wherever occurring, of a person:

  • who in prison custody or police custody or detention as a juvenile,
  • whose death is caused or contributed to by traumatic injuries sustained, or by lack of proper care while in custody or detention,
  • who is fatally injured in the process of police or prison officers attempting to detain that person, or
  • who is fatally injured in the process of that person escaping or attempting to escape from prison custody or police custody or juvenile detention.

The Royal Commission found that, although the rate of Indigenous deaths in custody did not exceed the non-Indigenous rate, the number of Indigenous deaths in custody reflects the over-representation of Indigenous people in custody.

Source: RCIADIC 1991, Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC)

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