It’s us, not them!
The figures for Aboriginal incarceration should make your skin crawl, at least they would if they were more widely reported. Hiding behind the brick walls and razor wire is one of Australia’s biggest social issues. Yet it is for this very reason of it being hidden that the issue is not addressed and the over imprisonment of Aboriginal people in Australia is essentially a non-issue for politicians and the general public.
For indigenous men, the rate of imprisonment increased by 27 per cent in the years between 2000 and 2008, and for women, by more than 40 per cent. Indigenous adults are now 13 times more likely than non-indigenous adults to be sent to gaol, and they’re much more likely to re-offend.
These figures leave us with only two possible conclusions. 1. That Aboriginal people, by nature are more likely to be offenders. Or 2. Us, we, society, Australia has failed Aboriginal people to the point that imprisonment is/has become the default policy.
To accept the first notion is the sort of racist intolerance and ignorance that is still to this day, sadly peddled by many a person around the nation. The fact of the matter is the answer lies with No. 2 and we must do more to end this crisis. A whole generation of Aboriginal Australian’s are getting their education behind bars and living a life were they do not belong. This is a cycle we must break!
GLEN DOOLEY, ABORIGINAL LEGAL AID: Aboriginal people created a whole alternative society within prison. I mean, that’s where you go to meet half your family, particularly if you’re a male. So this is not the stuff of deterrence, it’s simply using prison as a dumping ground for people in the too hard basket.
In Australia it should be unacceptable to have a too hard basket, we can break this cycle, we can empower and be empowered. But first, as with all problems, we must admit we have a problem.
I’m Australia, I have a problem…, I imprison those who need my collective help, not my punishment.