Easier to keep Indigenous kids in prison than school: Mick Gooda

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538em;”>Five per cent of the population, almost 60 per cent of the prison inmates

A new report highlights shocking rates of Indigenous incarceration in Australia and urges the government to push forward with its closing the gap policy.

The 2014 Social Justice and Native Title report shows a gross over-representation of Indigenous Australians in prison.

The report was authored by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda.

Mr Gooda describes the statistics as a “catastrophe in anyone’s language”.

“Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous Australians,” he says.

Mr Gooda says it is easier to to keep Indigenous kids in prison than school.

“I think that’s a sad indictment when you think of kids getting their education in prison instead of at a high school,” he says. 

Mr Gooda says the figures are overwhelmingly disturbing.

“I go home and lie in the foetal position under the doona sometimes, just wondering what way’s out,” Mr Gooda says.

“The reason people die in jail at greater rates is that we’re in jail at greater rates so it goes back to reducing incarceration.”

Higher rates of youth detention

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people make up more than half the population of young people in juvenile detention, according to a recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 

In the June 2014 quarter, during an average night, 59 per cent of the 738 inmates aged 10-17 in detention (434 people) were Indigenous.

Read the full report below: