A better approach to bail for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

by Lisa Stone

Twenty-five years ago the Royal Commission into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Deaths in Custody (‘RCIADC’) made recommendations on arrest and bail. In particular, it recommended that arrest is a measure of last resort, that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be consulted on every application regarding bail and bail conditions, and that bail conditions should not be used to impose views of what police or courts consider to be ‘an appropriate life style.’1

Most of those recommendations were never implemented. Meanwhile, the NSW penal system is currently experiencing its greatest overcrowding ever. BOCSAR notes that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment is more than 45 per cent higher than it was at the time of the RCIADC and 73.5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody are there as a result of breaching court orders and bail conditions.

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