Solution to reduce indigenous prisoners in jails

INDIGENOUS offenders sentenced to prison around the state could be reduced by more than 500 a year, a recent crime report has suggested.

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) said that figure could be achievable if indigenous offenders committing crimes, such as minor assault or breaching an AVO, were served Intensive Correction Order instead of short prison sentences.

BOCSAR reached this conclusion after examining factors contributing to the 25% increase in indigenous imprisonment since 2013.

The Greens have claimed in Northern NSW, BOSCAR's statistics showed a more than 50% increase in the number of indigenous people sentenced to jail in four years.

Greens MP and Aboriginal Justice spokesman David Shoebridge said these rising incarceration figures are a growing shame.

"When almost one in four Aboriginal people can expect to find themselves in jail at some time in their life this is proof the criminal justice system is broken and appallingly damaging," Mr Shoebridge said.

"This data shows a need for comprehensive investment in community programs on the North Coast. This means spending money on education, health and housing, rather than police, courts and jail."

Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion said the government shared the Greens concerns about indigenous incarceration.

He said the government commissioned an investigation called the Prison to Work report which was completed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

"(They) provided a report that is absolutely fair-dinkcum about the sort of things each of the jurisdictions can do," Mr Scullion said.

"But this doesn't mean that the Commonwealth says well that's not our problem, quite clearly we can act in this space too."


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