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The Law Society of Western Australia Supports Justice Reinvestment

The Law Society of Western Australia welcomes recent statements by the Attorney General the Hon John Quigley MLA and Commissioner of Police Chris Dawson on alternatives to incarceration.

The Law Society understands that the Attorney General has called upon the Commissioner for Victims of Crime to develop new guidelines in conjunction with WA Police, to ensure no victim of crime who is acting as a witness is jailed for missing a court appearance. This follows an incident whereby a pregnant Aboriginal woman was arrested after illness prevented her from attending a court hearing, where she was scheduled to give evidence about a former partner.

The Commissioner of Police was recently quoted as saying that the “vast volume” of Aboriginal children charged with criminal offences in Western Australia could have those offences addressed under community justice arrangements, as an alternative to incarceration.

Law Society President Greg McIntyre SC said, “According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Western Australia has the second highest imprisonment rate of any State in Australia, with 344 persons per 100,000 adult population. Western Australia also has the dubious distinction of having the highest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment (4,203 persons per 100,000 adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).

“It is clear from these statistics that the current approaches in our justice system are not working. The Law Society instead advocates a justice reinvestment approach, to build communities rather than prisons. The Law Society supports any initiatives by the State Government and WA Police that will actively involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and invest in holistic early intervention, prevention and diversion strategies to militate against involvement with the criminal justice system.

“The Law Society will continue to work closely with stakeholders including the Attorney General and Commissioner of Police to advance practical, evidence-based solutions to drive sustainable change, prevent deaths in custody and make incarceration a last resort.”

– ENDS –

For comment please contact:

Andrew MacNiven
Senior Media and Communications Officer
(08) 9324 8634

About us: The Law Society of Western Australia is the peak professional association for lawyers in the State. The Society is a not-for-profit association dedicated to the representation of its more than 4000 members. The Society enhances the legal profession through its position as a respected leader and contributor on law reform, access to justice and the rule of law. The Society is widely acknowledged by the legal profession, government and the community as the voice of the legal profession in Western Australia.

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