Northern Territory – still imprisoning First Peoples in 21st century

The Sydney Morning Herald – Date: December 27 2008

‘Sausage factory’ NT courts cited in crime squeeze

Lindsay Murdoch in Darwin

THEY call the offence “driving whilst black”.

“If you are white you can drive around Northern Territory towns like Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs and rarely get pulled up by the police,” said a lawyer, Glen Dooley. “But if you are black you can be pulled up regularly, given the police focus on Aboriginal people.”

Mr Dooley described as a “disgrace” the largely unnoticed statistic that 83 per cent of prisoners in the NT’s overcrowded jails are Aborigines.

He warned the rate of imprisonment – almost four times higher per capita than elsewhere in Australia – is set to increase because of “blinkered” government policies that focus on the perceived “barbarism” of Aborigines.

Mr Dooley cited the building of 18 police stations in remote communities under the federal indigenous intervention, plans for a $320 million, 1000-bed jail near Darwin and Australia’s toughest mandatory sentencing for violent crimes as measures hastening the criminalisation of Aborigines.

“The Government here is adopting policies that are politically popular but they are doing nothing to stop the spiralling rate of crime,” said the principal lawyer for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.

full story

see also

North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency