The Intersection of Disadvantage and the Criminal Justice System in Australia – And Six Ways to Address This
12 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 10, 2020
It is well-established that trauma, lower socio-economic circumstances and educational attainment, marginalisation, drug and/or alcohol misuse, homelessness, family violence and racism are consistent factors associated with the pathways to crime and custody (Halsey 2008). The evidence is clear not only about the extensive intersection between disadvantage and the criminal justice system, but some effective ways of addressing this. This paper highlights six interconnected ways to address such disadvantage: addressing the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system, including through implementation of the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission Pathways to Justice report; investing in community-based options, rather than prison; raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14; supporting families to stay together; providing adequate funding and support for best practice health, housing and education; and addressing sexual and family violence and the attitudes that give rise to such violence. The research on these issues is clear. What is required now is for politicians and policy-makers to act on this research to improve criminal justice outcomes and social wellbeing more generally.
Keywords: child welfare, crime prevention, domestic violence, disadvantage, health, prison, sentencing, social justice
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