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Indigenous Youth and the Criminal Justice System

Boersig, John
June 4, 2015

Source: Paper. Downloaded 8 September 2004.

The over-representation of Indigenous children in the criminal justice system is well documented. One of the most important outcomes of the Australian Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, finalized in 1991, was to highlight the difficulties faced by Indigenous people within the criminal justice system, particularly in the area of Indigenous juvenile incarceration. The orthodox response by one State within the federation, the New South Wales Government, as expressed in legislation and court sentencing practice, is marked by a failure to stem the ever-increasing rates of Indigenous incarceration. Focusing upon court practice and case law, this paper critiques the orthodox responses by Government over the past ten years to the problem of Indigenous juvenile incarceration. Criticism of Government inability to address this problem is long standing and damning, and underscores the inadequacy of various strategies used to address this issue. Drawing from a post-colonial theoretical framework, the paper questions the orthodox response by Government, to this problem. It is suggested that the failure of Government calls for a re-thinking of law reform, and suggests that ‘restorative justice’ may provide a pathway forward. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Restorative Justice, Simon Fraser University,


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