Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia Limited

Justice Reinvestment Forum: Build Communities Not Prisons

‘Justice Reinvestment’

Law and Advocacy Unit

Justice Reinvestment Forum: Build Communities Not Prisons

Deaths in Custody Watch Committee

Thursday May 12th from 2 – 4pm

Mercy Employment & Community Programmes

4 Brewer Place Mirrabooka WA 6061

The abstract for the presentation is below:

Australia has epidemic and internationally alarming levels of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the problem has not been adequately addressed by State and Territory Governments, who seem intent on a ‘tough on crime’ approach to justice that disproportionately impacts Aboriginal peoples. Given that 15 April 2011 marked 20 years since the passing of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (‘RCIADIC’), the time is right for a new approach. One solution that is gaining traction is ‘Justice Reinvestment’.

Justice Reinvestment is a principle which seeks to divert funds from prison construction and operation into relevant initiatives aimed at reducing recidivism by diverting people (and particularly youth) from crime and offering proven rehabilitation programs in communities where there is either a high incidence of offending or where high numbers of offenders come from.

The Justice Reinvestment concept emerged in the United States and has enjoyed success in various states including Texas, Kansas and Oregon. For example, after implementing Justice Reinvestment initiatives, Oregon reduced its juvenile detention rate by 72%, improved community conditions in lower socio-economic neighbourhoods and saved millions of dollars on prison costs. The economic rationale behind Justice Reinvestment is that diversionary and rehabilitative initiatives cost significantly less than the cost of prison construction and operation. For example, between 2008 and 2009, Texas saved $210.5 million (US) by reducing incarceration.

The Aboriginal Legal Service of WA, the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of WA and other organisations are now advocating for the adoption of Justice Reinvestment Initiatives in Australia.

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