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Smarter, safer, stronger – Greens launch criminal justice policy

Media Release
Penny Wright 1 Aug 2013

Spokesperson on legal affairs, Senator Penny Wright, and Greens Senate candidate for the Northern Territory, Warren H Williams, said Justice Reinvestment was a smarter approach to crime and would address escalating rates of imprisonment – particularly among indigenous Australians.

“The tired mantra of ‘tough on crime’ is short-sighted and has put huge pressure on budgets. It’s time to get smart on crime instead,” Senator Wright said.

“Pouring billions of dollars into dealing with the consequences of crime once the damage has been done has been a failure. It has not made our communities safer.

“Justice Reinvestment recognises we can save vast amounts of money by targeting disadvantaged communities and strengthening them, so crime doesn’t happen in the first place.

“So today we’re promising $60 million to fund pilot programs and an independent advisory centre to get smart on crime and assist State and Territory governments start building safer and stronger Australian communities.”

Mr Williams said the community-based approach of justice reinvestment would do much more to combat the shameful rates of indigenous incarceration than current top-down government policies.

“For a black person, getting caught for whatever reason most often means going to jail,” Mr Williams said. “Our people are shamefully over-represented in jails – more than a quarter of inmates in Australia are blackfellas.

“Once they are in the system, their chances of going back to jail are really high and there’s a wasted life.

“I don’t think it should be normal for Aboriginal kids to know someone in their family who is in jail or has been in jail.

“Simple things like helping a kid in a remote area to get a driver’s licence can keep that kid out of prison down the track.

“Jail is just a temporary solution to long-term problems. I want to do something about this. I want to stop these statistics and turn them around by addressing the causes.”

Justice Reinvestment is a community-focused, evidenced-based approach that provides savings, diverts offenders, addresses the causes of crime, and strengthens communities. It originated in the United States where it has significant success and bipartisan support because of the significant economic savings that come from a 'front end' approach.

In Australia, Justice Reinvestment is backed by experts in the legal, health and social services. Read more about Justice Reinvestment and the Greens announcement here:

Media contact:     Danielle Forsyth 0417 173 508

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