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YOUNG AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL PRISONERS DEEMED NATIONAL CRISIS


CANBERRA, Australia - Twenty years ago, a major government inquiry into Aboriginal suicides and suspicious deaths in prisons made more than 300 recommendations aimed at keeping more Aborigines out of jail. But in the past decade alone, the imprisonment rate for Aborigines has soared 66 per cent, the report said.
  • Now a days, the Australia's burgeoning population of young Aboriginal prisoners is a "national crisis" that needs urgent and wide-ranging government action, a parliamentary report warned Monday.
  • Aboriginal children are 28 times more likely than other Australian children to be sent to a juvenile detention center, the report on indigenous youth in the criminal justice system found.
  • The report comes as the government strives to close the life expectancy gap of more than a decade between Aborigines and other Australians by addressing poor health, unemployment, low education levels as well as alcohol and drug abuse among indigenous people.
  • The government has also cracked down on rampant child sexual abuse in Outback Aboriginal communities in recent years by banning alcohol and pornography and by restricting what Aborigines' welfare cheques can buy.
  • While Aborigines make up an impoverished minority of only 2.5 per cent of Australia's 22 million population, 25 per cent of the Australian prison population is indigenous. Incarceration rates are far worse for the young, with Aboriginal children accounting for 59 per cent of inmates in Australian juvenile detention centres. "The over-representation of indigenous youth in the criminal justice system is a national crisis," the report said.
"This is a national tragedy, and questions must be raised as to why the situation has worsened so dramatically after the sweeping reforms recommended" by the inquiry in 1991, the report said.
The 346-page report released yesterday made 40 wide-ranging recommendations that attack many underlying causes for young indigenous Australians getting in trouble with police.
Source: Agency
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