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MEDIA RELEASE - Response to Transportation Report

July 18 2011 - Deaths In Custody supports recommendations of The Deaths In Custody Watch Committee have today applauded the recommendations of the newly released Report of the Inquiry into Transportation of Detained Persons. The report is the result of extensive consultations with organizations, family members, departments and concerned individuals by the State Environment and Public Affairs Parliamentary Committee.

Its’ 20 recommendations provide a means of tackling the unacceptably high rates of Indigenous incarceration in Western Australia where an Aboriginal person is 25 times more likely to be imprisoned than a non-Aboriginal person. The report notes that this rate is continuing to rise...

Deaths in Custody spokesperson Mr Marc Newhouse said “It is now time for this government to start acting on recommendations made in so many reports and inquiries since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody twenty years ago.  They can no longer feign ignorance or claim that what they are doing works.” 

The report’s recommendations are wide ranging and go beyond provision of safe and humane transport.  For example, the Department of Premier and Cabinet are called upon to coordinate a whole of government approach to lowering incarceration rates of Aboriginal people with targets set and monitored and reported on directly to Parliament. “This would bring the current situation out in the open and force governments to be more accountable for Aboriginal incarceration rates” said Mr Newhouse.

Another recommendation was to support the principles of justice reinvestment and that further research be conducted to investigate the justice reinvestment approach in Western Australia. “This is the second recommendation by a parliamentary committee in the past two months for justice reinvestment to be explored or trialed in Western Australia” said Mr Newhouse.  “The Deaths in Custody Watch Committee cannot understand why Christian Porter continues to dismiss this approach out of hand.  All that we can assume is that he is ignorant of what it really means and unwilling to find out.”

Mr Newhouse went on to comment that “Sometimes it can be easy to forget that these issues relate to people, families, communities and a whole culture. When solutions are offered such as those in the Report of the Inquiry into the Transport of Detained Persons, surely any humane government and government department would cease making excuses and seriously consider implementation of recommendations that lead to a community that is ultimately safer for everyone in it.”

Further comment: Marc Newhouse (Deputy Chair), 0415 074 602, newbone@bigpond.com

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