A study of government policy responses to the high incidence of indigenous peoples in custody in the Northern Territory, 1985-1995

  • Helmy Bakermans

    Student thesis: Coursework Masters - CDU


    This study reviews government policy responses aimed at reducing the high incidence of indigenous peoples in custody. Its purpose is to appraise Northern Territory initiatives in the wider context of all Australian jurisdictions during the period of approximately 1985 to 1995.

    While the findings of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody provide the main frame of reference for the study, the emphasis is not on deaths in custody, but on crime, its incidence among indigenous and non-indigenous people and, in particular, the anomalously high rate of imprisonment among indigenous people.

    Existing research projects, literature, investigations and records of parliamentary debates have been examined for this study, in order to shed more light on the policy debate. Historical, criminological and sociological factors were also examined as they are essential in comprehending the complexity of the issues involved.

    The study endeavours to show that any effective reduction in indigenous imprisonment rates needs to be globally addressed. Policy responses must aim to redress the inequalities found in all social indicators at the same time. They must also provide developmental opportunities that enable a rapid increase in indigenous self-management.

    The study concludes that there are ample opportunities in the criminal justice system for greater Aboriginal involvement in determining more appropriate measures to deal effectively with offending behaviour. In order to achieve equity in the legal system, a shift is needed in the prejudiced and discriminatory assumptions upon which the structures and processes of the criminal justice system are based.
    Date of Award1996
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBill Tyler (Supervisor)

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