Australia

Apr 15, 2011

Why are deaths in custody rising?

Twenty years after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, inmates are still dying as a result of the same practices the Commission sought to eliminate. Inga Ting begins a special investigation.

Twenty years today after the Royal Commission report into Aboriginal deaths in custody was released, fatalities in prison custody are rising and inmates are still dying as a result of the same lethal practices the Commission sought to eliminate.

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27 thoughts on “Why are deaths in custody rising?

  1. arty

    Clarification please. Is the topic “deaths” in custody or is it “suicides” in custody?

  2. hope i'm fair?

    “Even people who may well be committed to making a difference or doing good work by what they individually do in direct service or in policy or whatever, there’s an absolute understanding that it won’t see the light of day unless it fits with the image [the Department wants] projected.”

    The key word here is “wants.” I think that the individuals who could apply common sense to effect change at the micro-level have pretty much been manualised and thus had their hands tied and are scared to go against procedures set by the department who has in turn had their hands tied and are scared to go against procedures set by…who?

    On the point of populating her majestys, exceptional anecdotes aside, one has to try extremely hard to be imprisoned in our country, for the prison population to have doubled means there are more people encouraging criminality…who?

  3. TheTruthHurts

    Whats the obsession all the time with crim rights by the lefties?

    What about victim rights?

    I also love this bit about Aboriginals being the highest percentage of jail inmates like somehow this is someone elses fault.

    100% of people in prison have committed crimes.

    The solution to the problem is for people to stop committing crimes. That means they don’t go to jail. Amazing how this thing works isn’t it?

    And how do you stop people committing crimes? You force them to work. Idle hands are the devils tools

  4. joooolz69

    Indipendant international inspection of prison community’s as a whole to see if human rights have been violated by any aspect of this Native Title Act process. I believe the Native Title Act is to blame for this. Is not a far stretch when you see the majority of those in prison come from remote communites or from lands under Native Title Act debate and legal process. If it reputes to be valid by international law the Native Title Act legislators need to be held to international inspection for motives and socially responsible aims before anymore meetings are held. There isn’t any justice by community agreement it’s as if there is no community or minority at all…no families, no elders and nothing to keep for the next generation…simply because dispossession is not a commodity to be proved. Guillard and her ministers need to change these laws for humanity’s sake. If you see these numbers of deaths and prison rates as being cruel then write about this internationally. Get UN inspectors in more than say the 2(?) allowed in per year by this government? This Act(which is illegal internationally), in my opinion, is a crime against humanity played out in front of the world. There are no winners.

  5. JamesH

    But, but, Andrew Johns says that it’s really white people who are victimised by the prison system. And he would know, right?

  6. Liz45

    @ARTY – I’d say, both. Some suicides are questionable. The reality is, that aboriginal people get custodial sentences for too many crimes(infringements) that non aboriginal people only receive community service orders or a fine etc. Also, jailing people for non-payment of fines is plain stupid. If people are poor they can’t pay fines – the cycle just keeps on going. Jails are ‘universities’ for learning how to be better crooks. there’s no real educational programs and not enough emphasis on supporting people just prior to release and after. This is usually left to the traditional charities who are always in need of funds. No wonder particularly young people are drawn to their old networks? Nobody else is available – even family members are too poor/stressed to play a major role – they try hard but need resources!

    Overall, unless the question of racism and negative attitudes of police and the judiciary is admitted to and changed, this shameful situation will only continue. The situation in this country is as bad as in Sth Africa during the years of apartheid! We’re all to blame!

    Racist attitudes to aboriginal people has always been the highest in the country – regardless of who’s seen to be at the ‘top of the pile’ such as people from the middle east. I suggest that aboriginal people suffer more.

    I’ve taken notice in recent years, that every time there’s a news item about aboriginal people, the same images are shown on TV – a park in Darwin or Alice Springs with a handful of drunk black people around! Take note yourselves! Or, for a couple of years after the Intervention, it was the same images – military and/or police personnel and skinny little black kids – not in a ‘favourable’ light.

    It’s unthinkable for people in my environment to have to make agreements with any level of government in order to have housing, schools or health policies etc. Why do indigenous people have to be subjected to such behaviours? I find that repugnant. We caused the poverty and we’re keeping it going! Too many instances of aboriginal people working for the dole – side by side with non-aboriginal people who are being paid the award wage. This is happening now!

    During the nonsense campaign over the super profits tax on our natural recources, part of the argument put forward by mining companies was their alleged financial input into the communitives where they’ve dug up our resources. Why then are the NT aboriginal people living in such poverty? It’s bs, and many of us know it! Sadly, the Labor Govt is just as racist and divisive as Howard’s.

    There was no justice for TJ Hickey, the man in the police lockup on Palm Island; Mr West in WA and the transgender woman in a NSW jail! That’s 4 in the last few years. Not one person has been charged in any of these cases. All we heard was police cover up, collusion and lies! Shameful. Then yesterday, the story of the little 8 yr old boy in the NT. No inquiry, no police investigation, even though he’d been found drowned and with weights in his pockets? Hullo? It raised my suspicions? Not good enough!

    As I understand it, only a couple if any recommendations of the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody have been implemented? If you go to that website and read some of the stories, you’ll be horrified. I was! I couldn’t read too many, as it was just so distressing and made me very angry! We’re a shameful, racist country! Who’s seen the video of the aboriginal man being tasered in WA? Appalling! What happened to the bastards who did that? Nothing!

    The mainstream media, shock jocks etc are also to blame. The racism that comes out of these outlets incites hatred. Much of their rubbish is just not true, such as making out that aboriginal people get heaps of dollars more then the rest of the community – just not true!

    In fact, the ABS stats clearly show, that aboriginal people in all communities in Australia receive less money than non-aboriginal people in the same areas. But how many bother to find this out? I include the despicable and racist journalists who write for the Murdoch press or some of the well known racists on radio. I feel ashamed! Sadly, Jenny Macklin is an apologist for the status quo. I’d like to see someone else in this role – with a better attitude! Sadly, I know of only a couple of people in the Govt/Opposition who’d really make a positive change. I’d like Bob Brown and his colleagues take over. We then might see some positive change, but of course, they aren’t in charge of the money?

    When I was a young woman and voted “yes” in the 1967 Referendum; or walked across the Bridge in 2000, or heard the apology in 2008, I thought each time, that things would change – dramatically! Not so! We still have the highest aboriginal infant mortality rate in the world; deaths in custody are still at shameful levels, and a racist policeforce/s and judiciary operate around the country. No wonder aboriginal youth are angry; no wonder their parents despair – if we continue with this level of racism, nothing will change! I despair!

  7. Susan

    Link has a zip file which doesn’t appear to be working. Do you have the information in a more IT novice friendly format? Thanks!

  8. liliwyt

    @TheTruthHurts – nobody’s saying victim rights aren’t important.

  9. Mark Clarkson

    Victoria dealt deftly with the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody. As the report testifies, using Hitler-like definitions of ethnicity that would make Bolt blush, Victoria simply redefined ‘Aboriginal’ so that none of the deaths in custody within the jurisdiction of the State of Victoria involved an ‘Aboriginal’. The niceties were rumoured to have been coined by Sir John Young and his cronies in the law done at the Melbourne Club. Who said Sir John’s time, as the Captain of the Guard of the incarcerated Rudolph Hess, was wasted?

  10. Daniel

    “What about victim rights?”

    what about them?

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