One of the first advocates for Justice Reinvestment in Australia was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma. At a Conference in Sydney in June 2009, he pointed out that:
The Indigenous juvenile detention rate had risen 27% nationally between 2001 to 2007.
Indigenous young people are 28 times more likely to be detained than non-Indigenous young people.
The justice reinvestment program is slowly reducing prison rates and balancing government budgets in places like Texas, Kansas and the United Kingdom.
Justice reinvestment still retains detention as a measure of last resort for dangerous and serious offenders, but actively shifts the culture away from imprisonment. Instead of imprisoning people, it provides community-wide services that will actually prevent offending.
Justice reinvestment recognises that most offenders come from a small number of disadvantaged communities and it redirects money into crime prevention and community services in those communities.
Justice Reinvestment: Tacking the Injustice of Indigenous Imprisonment
The Australian Human Rights Commission also saw Justice Reinvestment as a potential solution to indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system. It promoted the concept in Chapter Two of its Social Report in 2009.
Download the Social Report Chapter on Justice Reinvestment
In the same month, the Commonwealth government considered the concept of justice reinvestment in its report on Access to Justice.
Download the Access to Justice Report
In August 2010, the Australian Green Party introduced the concept as a policy initiative.
Download the Green Party Policy on Justice Reinvestment
Justice Reinvestment – An Option for Western Australia?
In September 2010, Paul Papalia, Shadow Minister Corrections, Western Australia, presented a paper proposing justice reinvestment as a way forward for resolving its prison crisis. In his paper he concludes:
“Western Australia’s prison system is critically overcrowded. The prison muster has been growing for over a decade and growth has escalated dramatically in recent years. Evidence shows our prisons do not stop offenders from re-offending. Studies also show only a small reduction in recidivism will result in significant improvements in community safety and a commensurate reduction of costs in the prison system. Justice Reinvestment offers a framework for co-ordinating activity from every level of government, non-government agencies, business and communities in a focussed manner aimed at reducing recidivism. It is a proven, scientifically based process that has worked elsewhere in the world. Coincidentally, by focussing on communities that generate costs to the prison system, it probably offers the single most effective tool for tackling Indigenous disadvantage in Western Australia.”
Download Justice Reinvestment - an option for Western Australia?