Despite there being no evidence to show that harsher sentencing and increased incarceration make communities safer, the NSW Government has announced plans to commit a record-breaking $3.8bn over the next four years to cover 7000 additional prison beds.
NSW Corrections Minister David Elliot: “This, it must be said, is not money the state government is happy to spend…My strong preference would always be that taxpayers money is spent on schools and hospitals.” (SMH, 16/6/16).
Clear recommendations for policy and legislative reforms to reduce prison populations without decreasing community safety have been presented to the NSW Government time and time again. This is not a situation beyond their control.
The need to raise awareness and mobilise the community around the issue of over imprisonment in NSW is clearly greater than ever. Champion of Just Reinvest NSW, and former Director of Public Prosecutions In NSW, Nicholas Cowdery noted “The government thinks it is safe to impose these financial burdens on us, because they think we are going to be accepting of it…But people who know about this area know that there are alternatives that won’t cost as much” (SMH, 23/6/16).
Just Reinvest NSW will continue to challenge any government approach that directs money away from crime prevention and instead invests that money in a system which continues to prove itself to be largely ineffective in reducing crime and which continues to have a devastating impact on Aboriginal communities across NSW.
The mass incarceration of Aboriginal children and young people in NSW is not the solution. The time to act is now.