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The tragic and racist rates of First Nations incarceration and prison deaths in Australia

This past Christmas, two Aboriginal people died in custody in Western Australia, prompting calls for urgent action from state and federal governments. 41-year-old Danielle Lowe died in a Perth hospital on Christmas Eve following a "medical episode" in Wandoo rehabilitation prison, while an unnamed 45-year-old man collapsed and died while playing basketball at Grenough prison near Geraldton on December 27.

Maggie Munn, an Indigenous rights campaigner for Amnesty International Australia, said “It’s incredibly tragic to wake up to this news of more Aboriginal deaths in custody, again, in what should be a joyful time of year. For us, as Aboriginal people, each time one of us dies we all feel that because it’s a constant reminder to us of where we sit in this place.”

In an urgent call for action, Munn said the state, territory, and federal governments must implement all 339 recommendations from the 1991 royal commission.

Since 1991, there have been 516 Indigenous deaths in custody, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology. The incarceration of First Nations people has not changed much since the royal commission, according to Dr. Hannah McGlade, a Noongar woman and associate professor at Curtin University.

“People are dying as a result of institutional systemic racism and discrimination that is normalised and naturalised by white society,” she said. “And governments are failing to respect and uphold their duties under human rights law.”

Indigenous Australians have been disproportionately affected by the justice system in Australia and is part of a problem deeply rooted in Australia's colonial history and white supremacy.

Source: The Guardian


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