PIAC welcomes new report on First Nations incarceration: but action is needed

On the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, PIAC has welcomed many of the recommendations of a new Report tabled in NSW Parliament today.
The Joint Select Committee on the High Level of First Nations People in Custody and Oversight and Review of Deaths in Custody has handed down 39 recommendations.
This includes a recommendation to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility, and incarceration, to at least 14 years.
‘First Nations kids continue to be disproportionately criminalised. The evidence is clear that young people, their families and our community are stronger when children are kept out of the criminal justice system and in their homes’, PIAC CEO Jonathon Hunyor said.
PIAC also welcomes a recommendation, reflecting our submission to the Inquiry, for the NSW Government to expressly legislate that the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a person should be used only as a measure of last resort, and for the shortest appropriate period of time.
‘Explicitly legislating for “arrest as a last resort” would be a significant step forward in better regulating the use of police power,’ Mr Hunyor added.
The Committee also stated it was ‘deeply concerned with how the Suspect Target Management Program (STMP) is being applied by the NSW Police Force to children and young people, particularly First Nations youth’. This is welcome recognition of the harm caused by the use of the STMP on children, but there is a need for stronger action.
‘The STMP simply should not apply to children. If the police are not prepared to respond to these concerns, the law needs to be changed to limit the use of the STMP and protect children’, Mr Hunyor added.
PIAC will assess the report in detail in coming weeks and continue working with First Nations organisations to advocate for concrete reform.
‘Today of all days, we recognise that reports like these cannot be allowed to simply gather dust, but must instead be acted upon. The last thing we need are more good recommendations with no follow-through’ said Mr Hunyor.

View our submission and the Final Report of the Joint Select Committee.

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