Letter to Hon. Gerry McCarthy MLA from Priscilla Collins Chief Executive Officer North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency NAAJA's response to the New Era in Corrections dated 23 February 2011
Tabled paper 1429
Tabled Papers for 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled By Gerald McCarthy
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
NAAJA considers it equally important to resource Community Corrections, so that offenders are provided with a real opportunity to rehabilitate and reintegrate into the community. Reducing Aboriginal Over Incarceration: NAAJAs Additional Comments The NILJF provides a comprehensive framework for how to address the over incarceration of Aboriginal people. Goal 1 of the NILJF is to '[ijmprove all Australian justice system? so that they comprehensively deliver on the justice needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a fair and equitable manner. NAAJA supports the NILJF and recommends that Government ensure the New Era proposals take account of the NILJF objectives, strategies and actions. Additionally, NAAJA suggests immediate reform is needed in seven key areas: Mandatory Sentencing Recommendation 10: Mandatory sentencing provisions should be removed from all NT Legislation. NAAJA maintains its opposition to mandatory sentencing and proposes that the New Era in Corrections remove mandatory sentencing provisions from legislation. Mandatory sentencing does not work. There is simply no evidence that it makes the community safer. It does not act as an effective deterrent. It does not reduce offending or re-offending-rates. Mandatory sentencing disproportionately impacts upon Aboriginal people given their higher rates of contact with the criminal justice system. Its unfairness is therefore concentrated on Aboriginal people. Mandatory sentencing results in sentences that are arbitrary, often disproportionate to the crime and do not allow regard for the full circumstances of the particular offence and offender. Courts should be allowed to take into account an offenders entire circumstances, and have the full host of sentences available when making a decision as to sentence. That is fundamental to justice and making the punishment fit the crime. Removing mandatory sentencing provisions is consistent with the NILJF, in particular Strategy 2.3.1: [ejnsure the effective use of all policing and sentencing options for Indigenous offenders, and Goal 2. [rjeduce [the] over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders, defendants and victims in the criminal justice system. Youth Recommendation 11: Community Corrections should have a specific Youth Justice division. 9