Why no native jail numbers, Dr Leigh?

MP for Fenner Andrew Leigh. Photograph: Mike Welsh

“As an ACT parliamentarian delivering a speech within the ACT, it might have been extra apt for Dr Leigh to mirror on the ACT’s file in relation to the incarceration of Aboriginal peoples slightly than that of WA, writes JON STANHOPE.

IT was pleasing to see Dr Andrew Leigh, the federal member for Fenner, talking up just lately concerning the staggering improve in incarceration charges in Australia over the past decade or so.

Jon Stanhope.

His feedback have been contained in an deal with he delivered on October 31 on the opening of an Australian Institute of Criminology Convention right here in Canberra.

Dr Leigh is indisputably some of the extremely educated and intellectually gifted and skilled members of the Albanese authorities. I’ve identified him for a while and certainly voted for him when he first sought pre-selection as an ALP candidate for the Home of Representatives. 

Whereas he has been an energetic and engaged native member, I’m annoyed, as I’m positive he have to be, that after greater than a decade within the job he’s an assistant minister solely after which for Competitors and Charities.

Sadly, as he and I and each member of the ALP in Canberra is aware of, he’s doomed to endure that circumstance whereas ever he stubbornly refuses to hitch a faction. However I digress. Inner ALP factional machinations and the stultifying impression they’ve on the preselection or development of high quality candidates is a narrative for one more day.

Central to Dr Leigh’s convention speech was the result of analysis he revealed in 2020 concerning the rising price of incarceration in Australia. He described the phenomenon as “The Second Convict Age”. That is a few of what Dr Leigh’s analysis revealed: 

  • In 1985, the incarceration price in Australia was 96 prisoners per 100,000 adults. In 2020, the incarceration price was 202 prisoners per 100,000 adults.
  • The incarceration price has greater than doubled. But this isn’t as a result of Australians have grow to be twice as more likely to commit severe crimes. Actually, the reverse is true. The crime price in Australia for many classes of crime has been falling because the mid-’80s.
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Dr Leigh additionally famous that extreme incarceration significantly impacts First Nations individuals and went on to say: “The indigenous incarceration price is now greater than twice as excessive as when the 1991 Royal Fee into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report was delivered.

“In WA, the indigenous incarceration price exceeds 3.5 per cent of adults, that means that multiple in 30 indigenous West Australian adults are at the moment behind bars.

“Based mostly on accessible information, incarceration charges for indigenous Australians are greater than for African People… and indigenous individuals in Canada, NZ and the US.”

As I mentioned, I’m significantly happy that Dr Leigh has drawn consideration to those issues. It’s a topic I’ve repeatedly sought to attract consideration over a lot of years. Certainly, I take into account the speed of incarceration of Aboriginal peoples in Australia as maybe the most important blot on us as a nation and a problem to our notion of ourselves as a good, simply, egalitarian and compassionate nation. 

Nevertheless, as an ACT parliamentarian delivering a speech within the ACT, it might have been extra apt for Dr Leigh to mirror on the ACT’s file in relation to the incarceration of Aboriginal peoples slightly than that of WA. Wherein case, a few of what Dr Leigh would have reported is that in 2020 the crude price of imprisonment of Aboriginal ladies in Canberra was 632.7 in comparison with a non-indigenous price of 9.4. that means that the ratio of Aboriginal to non-Aboriginal ladies incarcerated was 67.3, the very best in Australia and greater than thrice greater than the typical ratio throughout all states and territories, which was 21.4.

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He would even have famous that whereas making up 1.95 per cent of the ACT inhabitants, Aboriginal peoples constituted, on common, 23 per cent of detainees imprisoned within the AMC and additional the ACT, within the previous decade, had by far the very best improve in indigenous incarceration in Australia. The rise within the ACT was 279 per cent which was 5 occasions greater than the nationwide improve of 59 per cent.

Notably the Productiveness Fee has additionally reported in every of the final two years, following the publication by Dr Leigh of his analysis, that the ACT has supplanted WA because the jurisdiction with the very best price ratio of indigenous incarceration in Australia.

Alarmingly the 10-year information in relation to the proportion of admissions of members of the ACT’s Aboriginal neighborhood to the justice system reveal an rising development with an annual improve of 5.7 per cent against a rise of two.9 per cent in non-indigenous admissions.

Capping off the distressing outcomes skilled by the Aboriginal neighborhood of Canberra in relation to contact with the legal justice system the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ most up-to-date report on charges of recidivism reveals that 94 per cent of Aboriginal detainees on the AMC have a previous conviction.

I, for one, could be very taken with studying whether or not Dr Leigh has explored the doable causes that the ACT, a largely middle-class, educated and proudly progressive neighborhood with the self-declared most progressive authorities in Australia, locks up Aboriginal peoples, each women and men, at the next price than probably some other place not simply in Australia however on the planet.

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Jon Stanhope was ACT chief minister from 2001 to 2011 and the one chief minister to have ruled with a majority within the Meeting. Learn extra of his columns on citynews.com.au

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Ian Meikle, editor