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A report comparing sentencing outcomes for Koori and non-Koori adult offenders in the Magistrates' Court of Victoria has found that Indigenous offenders are more likely to receive a term in prison rather than an order supervised in the community compared with their non- Indigenous counterparts.
Koori offenders are significantly more likely to be imprisoned (37% of Koori offenders compared to 29% of non-Koori offenders) even when other factors such as offence type and prior sentencing are examined at the same time.
The report by the Sentencing Advisory Council, found that Koori prisoners are more likely to have problems with drug and alcohol use, to have poor education and employment histories, to have been held in youth detention or in adult prisons and to have breached previous orders.
Professor Arie Freiberg, Chair of the Sentencing Advisory Council said, 'The causes of over-representation of Indigenous people in Victoria's prisons are multifaceted. Indigenous offenders in Victoria are more likely to experience a number of factors that increase their risk for criminal behaviour. These factors are most likely a result of the ongoing consequences of historical disadvantage that this population has faced over many generations.'
Wayne Muir, Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, commended the Council's report, saying that it provided new data and valuable insights. He said that the report needs to be followed up with work on police practices, including an examination of charging practices against Koori alleged offenders. Muir also called for further work on the experience of Kooris in the youth justice system, with a focus on those in detention, who are among the most vulnerable in society.
Muir noted that many young Koori offenders have come directly out of the child protection system, but Victoria does not have any evidence on the number of such young people or the problems that they face, such as mental health issues and drug and alcohol use.
Source: ProBono News Australia and Comparing sentencing outcomes for Koori and non-Koori adult offenders in the Magistrates' Court of Victoria