criminal law

Australian Prisons: Recent Statistics, Disturbing yet Legal Police Behaviour

SCB Legal |

1 February, 2019

Prison hallway

Table of Contents

Australian Prisons: Recent Findings and Frightening Yet Legal Police Actions

Disturbing facts pertaining to Australian prisons have caught the media’s attention. Many issues have come to light relating to the Australian prison system and how police are ignoring Australian laws.

Australian prison news and the disturbing findings

There are a large number of troubling findings regarding Australian prisons and news’ stories have been rampant with reports. Some of the questions and topics raised include:

  • Why is there an increase in the number of people being imprisoned?
  • Why is the rate of women and Indigenous people being imprisoned, occurring at a RATE faster than others?
  • disparities existing when analysing prison statistics
  • harrowing reports of seemingly unlawful acts being committed, like police not even following legal procedures
  • frightening facts relating to investigations via intelligence gathering technology
  • surveillance initiatives that are apparently in accordance with current laws

If you’re reading this wondering whether you accidentally misread the country of origin, only to be outraged when realising that this is occurring in Australia, you’re not alone. Australian prison news is a popular topic and it’s easy to understand why the Australian public has taken such an active interest.

The Sydney morning herald published an article Why there are more prisoners but fewer crimes being committed In less than 24 hours after it was published, readers began actively participating in the discussion. Australian radio stations have also featured the breaking news as part of their top news’ stories.

Why are more people being imprisoned in Australia?

What do Australian prison statistics reveal and female prisoners australia?

Recent statistics reveal that there has been a 30% increase in the number of Australians being sent to prison. The obvious question is why are more people being put in prison, especially when the number of crimes committed has decreased?

According to a government publication, the NSW Government is taking action to address the State’s growing prison population. However, it seems that there are a number of actions the government has taken that do not reflect our values of fairness.

What’s even more troubling is the disparity that exists when one analyses the statistics. The number of women being imprisoned has increased substantially and disproportionately.

Australian prison population by race

The findings also revealed that Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islander people were between 12 and 16 times more likely to be imprisoned than the non-indigenous population. While non-indigenous Australians still represent the vast majority of those imprisoned, the aforementioned is a cause for grave concern.

Over-imprisonment of Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders

The Guardian reported that the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is “a national tragedy”. It’s easy to understand why “people are damaged by criminal justice systems”. The term Justice systems implies a fair system and yet all evidence points to the contrary. Is the Australian criminal ‘justice system’ really the antithesis of this term?

These troubling statistics make an already precarious situation even more alarming. Why is this happening in 2019 and how can this be happening in Australia?!

To better understand how these changes have occurred, it’s important to examine some of the laws that are responsible for this situation.

Unlawful Police Power, Going To Jail NSW And Over-Policing

“Over-policing” of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is an issue that was highlighted by Redfern Legal Centre head of police accountability and government law, Samantha Lee. Ms Lee cited tougher bail laws, more police powers and the Suspect Targeting Management Plan (STMP), that’s unique to NSW, as reasons for the inequity.

Lawyer and advocate Samantha Lee identified that NSW police were unlawfully strip searching Australians. It was for this reason that the RLC began the ‘Safe & Sound’ campaign, in order to stop the high number of police strip searches. These questionable NSW searches revealed that many of the people subjected to these practices, “were left feeling humiliated, scared and traumatised”. What’s even more disturbing is that “nothing was found on them and police failed to follow correct legal procedure.”

When people’s legal rights are so heavily infringed upon, it’s no wonder why our justice system is being called into question.

Gaol Australia and the technology used to monitor Australians

The Guardian reported that the purpose of intelligence gathering technology is to target people suspected of being likely to commit crime

This is reminiscent of Spielberg’s sci-fi thriller “Minority Report”, in which preemptive tactics were used to reduce crime rates.

While this film is fictitious, it’s extremely disturbing to think that the NSW law enforcement watchdog is actually sanctioning such initiatives. How can this be legal? Children as young as 10 years old are being monitored “despite them not having committed any crime”.

Prison surveillance: Is this actually legal in Australia?

New laws would allow any criminal in jail suspected of posing a terror-threat to be put under surveillance. What happened to the basic tenet of ‘innocent until proven guilty’?

The US government has been accused of similar wrongdoings since 9/11 and most Australians vehemently disagree with the practices. It’s a constant topic of discussion, as to whether or not the rights of the society outweigh the rights of the individual in matters of ‘homeland protection’. This definitely begs the question whether our legal rights are in jeopardy, given these new Australian laws.

Do you think Australians are even aware that this is occurring ‘in our own backyards’?

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