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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

Sentenced prisoners : Indigenous and non-Indigenous

Adapted from: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2003, Prisoners in Australia : Indigenous sentenced prisoners, cat. no. 4517.0

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