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Lawyers and police calling for a separate, indigenous sentencing court

Article image for Lawyers and police calling for a separate, indigenous sentencing court

There are calls for a new indigenous sentencing court to be established.

The NSW Bar Association and the Police Association of NSW are calling on state government to fund the Walama Court.

They believe the organisation will “meaningfully address the underlying issues that give rise to repeat offending” among indigenous communities.

While indigenous people make up three per cent of the population, they are disproportionately represented in jails across the country, making up 27 per cent of our prison population.

Bar Association President Arthur Moses says the rate of indigenous imprisonment in New South Wales grew 25 per cent between 2013 and 2016.

“We can’t afford this both from a community point of view but also the long-term effect on indigenous communities,” he tells Ray Hadley.

“It’s currently costing us $870 million to deal with indigenous incarceration and associated problems.”

While there are concerns the court would establish a separate system of justice for ingenious offenders, Mr Moses says that’s not the case.

“It’s not soft on crime. This is a circuit breaker.”

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Police Association Secretary Pat Gooley tells Ray, “corrective services are busting under the strain”.

He says addressing the issues in a similar way to the drug courts could help reduce the rate of offending.

“We see this as a way, like the drug court, really specifically targeting what are the causes of reoffending.”

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