The Australian Greens today have cautiously welcomed a report that the over-representation of young Indigenous people in the criminal justice system has slightly fallen, but said the problem of Indigenous overrepresentation in jails was nowhere near being resolved.
The high proportion of prisoners with a mental illness shows that Australian jails have become the psychiatric crisis centres of the 21st century, the Australian Greens said today.
Speaking in response to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Greens spokesperson for Mental Health, Senator Penny Wright, said: "We know that people with a mental illness are grossly overrepresented in the criminal justice system.
Yesterday's state budget includes some promising signs that South Australia is moving towards becoming 'smarter on crime' rather than just 'tough on crime', but demonstrates just how expensive it is to keep people in jail, Greens Senator for South Australia, Penny Wright, said.
"I am heartened that yesterday's state budget has seen some programs funded that encourage a Justice Reinvestment approach to the criminal justice system, such as an investigation into a bail support program and the modernisation of the justice information system," Senator Wright said.
Australian Greens spokesperson for Legal Affairs and Senator for South Australia Penny Wright, hopes the South Australian Government's response to the "Smart Justice" report will end the law and order auctions of the past decade and instead generate a more intelligent, multi-partisan approach to criminal justice policy in South Australia.
"I welcome the South Australian Government's largely positive response to Thinker in Residence Peggy Hora's ‘Smart Justice' report," Senator Wright said.
The Australian Greens have thrown their support behind the Justice Reinvestment for Aboriginal Young People campaign, which is being launched in New South Wales today.
Whilst criminal justice policy is usually seen as the responsibility of the states and territories, Greens spokesperson for Legal Affairs Senator Penny Wright, emphasised that Aboriginal imprisonment was a national problem that needed national attention.