4 facts you didn’t know about Indigenous youth incarceration

1. On an average night, 34 in every 10,000 Indigenous young people are in prison, compared to just 3 per 10,000 non-Indigenous young people.

The over-representation of Indigenous children in prison is at a crisis point and this rate is continually rising. The government really needs to address alternative solutions to ensure this rate is being reduced. Justice reinvestment and providing early intervention strategies is an effective solution. Giving the power to Indigenous communities to control programs allows the community to become stronger and safer.

2. 97% of youth detainees in the Northern Territory detention centre are of an Indigenous background.

The Northern Territory has shown the greatest over-representation of Indigenous children in detention. With almost all detainees being of an Indigenous background, this rate shows that incarceration is often used as a form of punishment and solution. There have also been many reports of abuse and assault from the guards. Videos and photos have surfaced where Indigenous children were gassed, blindfolded and beaten up by guards in the Don Dale detention center in the Northern Territory.

3. 54% of Indigenous children in detention were unsentenced.  

Many Indigenous children aren’t provided the needed legal representation or don’t understand legal processes meaning they are sent to juvenile detention without a sentence. As many Indigenous children also live in poverty, incarceration can sometimes be used as a form of accommodation. Furthermore, Indigenous children are sent to jail for minor offences such as driving without a license or offensive behaviour in public.

4. 38% of children in detention require psychiatric support compared to 6% in the general community

Many Indigenous children are in need of psychiatric support after a few months of being in detention. There have been studies that show that their mental and emotional health start to deteriorate after 6 months of being detained. During their prison sentence, they are often not given the necessary treatment or services to battle mental health issues.

 

-D.D

 

Resources:

https://www.theguardian.com/maurice-blackburn-fair-is-for-all/ng-interactive/2016/aug/29/the-incarceration-of-children-in-australia?CMP=share_btn_tw

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/thefeed/article/2016/07/26/facts-about-indigenous-youth-detention-australia

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