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By Don Weatherburn


Despite sweeping reforms through the Keating executive following the 1991 Royal fee into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the speed of Indigenous imprisonment has soared. What has long gone unsuitable? In Arresting incarceration, Dr Don Weatherburn charts the occasions that resulted in royal fee. He additionally argues that previous efforts to lessen the variety of Aboriginal Australians in felony have didn't appropriately tackle the underlying factors of Indigenous involvement in violent crime; particularly drug and alcohol abuse, baby forget and abuse, bad institution functionality and unemployment.  Read more...

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It is these proportional allocations and the recommendations underpinning them that reveal the Commission’s and the Keating Government’s strategy for reducing Indigenous over-representation in prison. The allocation of funds to different initiatives is shown in Table 1 below. 7 400 100 TOTAL Source: Cunneen and McDonald (1996, pp. 224–5). 9 per cent of the total package) were a prudent investment. Even at the time of the Royal Commission it was clear that alcohol abuse was a major cause of Indigenous contact with police.

By 1909, that percentage had risen to 42 per cent. In the early years of the twentieth century Queensland established a penal settlement on Palm Island and filled it with …children, alleged troublemakers, unmarried mothers of ‘half-caste’ children, aged and sick, petty offenders and hardened criminals shipped from all over the state. (May 1987, p. 95) According to Watson (2010, p. 36), Murris5 and Torres Strait Islanders were shipped to the island throughout the 1920s ‘like cattle’. By 1930, the population on Palm Island had grown to more than 1000 (Watson 2010, p.

Indeed, there is some evidence that Indigenous alcohol abuse began prior to the ending of prohibition. Reay (1945, p. 300) reports that the number of Aboriginal people convicted of drunkenness in Walgett rose from 11 in 1934 to 111 in 1943. Hunter (1993, p. 91) reported that in the decades following the repeal of prohibition ‘almost all’ Aboriginal males in the Kimberly tried drinking. In some areas Indigenous alcohol abuse may have begun to fuel local economies, making it even harder for Aboriginal people and outside authorities to break the vicious cycle (Hunter 1993, p.

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