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New approach needed as Aboriginal prison population rises

Media Release
Penny Wright 21 Nov 2013

The number of Aboriginal people in jail will continue to rise if cuts to indigenous legal aid go ahead, says Australian Greens spokesperson for legal affairs, Senator Penny Wright.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Corrective Services report today showed the number of indigenous men in prison had risen by 8 per cent and women by 12 per cent in the past year, compared to a national prison population increase of 6 per cent.

"That the number of Aboriginal people in jail is growing faster than for the rest of the community must be a wake-up call for Tony Abbott's government," Senator Wright said.

"They've made a commitment to making justice targets part of the Close The Gap initiative, but they will not succeed if they push ahead with a plan to cut indigenous legal aid by $42 million.

"Although they make up only two per cent of the population, more than 27 per cent of people in jail are Aboriginal.

"To turn this around, the Government should be increasing legal aid and adopting a justice reinvestment model to address the causes of crime and build safer communities.

"The old way has clearly failed. The Australian Greens say it's time to work with the indigenous community to take a bold evidence-based approach to closing the justice gap."

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