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An Overview of the Theory of Diversion: Notes for Correctional Policy Makers

Sarre, Rick
June 4, 2015

Source: (1999) Paper presented at the Best Practice Interventions in Corrections for Indigenous People Conference . Australian Institute of Criminology and Department for Correctional Services SA. Adelaide, 13-15 October.

In order for practitioners to successfully divert Indigenous Australians from vortex-like aspects of the criminal justice system, it is important for them to gain appreciation of the difficulties that thwarted their predecessors’ efforts and to understand the alternative paradigms that may better deliver the desired reduction in the over-representation of Indigenous Australians in police cells, court lists and prisons populations. This paper looks firstly at the reality of over-representation in the context of the findings of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. It then reviews the aims of diversionary theory and analyses its apparent failure to deliver on its promises. The paper finally previews the possibilities associated with embracing the ‘restorative justice’ paradigm for those seeking to re-enliven the theory of diversion by aligning it with principles of Aboriginal ‘community’ justice.


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