In September 1993, an Indigenous juvenile was 17 times more likely to be held in custody in Australia than a non-Indigenous juvenile, but by June 1996 the likelihood of detention was 21 times greater. Despite the recommendations contained in the report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, over-representation of Indigenous juveniles has persisted, and the prognosis for the future is not good.
The surge of Indigenous births in the mid to late 1980s will provide an even larger pool of potential clients for the juvenile justice system, and ultimately for the adult corrections system. The long-term effects of involvement with the criminal justice system on individuals, on families, on Indigenous communities and on the nation as a whole are cause for concern.
In this paper, the Australian Institute of Criminology presents trend information on the number of Indigenous juveniles in detention. These data enable long-term analysis of the problem and provide the basis for policy innovation.