The prospect of further, in-depth investigations across the state has been welcomed after recent research showed Aboriginal people facing criminal charges are more likely to be denied bail than similar, non-Aboriginal defendants.
The Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT encouraged 'action' be taken after the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research released its findings last month, labelling the results 'disappointing but not surprising'.
BOCSAR's research analysed more than 500,000 bail decisions, and the various factors involved, made between 2015 and 2019 across the state, which showed Aboriginal people are 20.4 per cent more likely to be refused bail.
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Specifically, the study found Aboriginal adult defendants are more likely to have bail refused by police while Aboriginal male defendants and those aged between 35 and 44 are more likely to be refused bail by both police, and courts.
BOCSAR executive director Jackie Fitzgerald said the findings warranted further investigation, and could be contributing to the disproportionate number of Aboriginal people in custody.
"We welcome the data being out for all to see (and) while knowledge is a good thing we need much more than research - we need action," Sarah Crellin, ALS principal solicitor (crime practice), said.
"This reflects our concerns of systemic racism within NSW Police meaning Aboriginal people are being locked up simply because they are Aboriginal.
"These findings are disappointing but not surprising. The facts show that Aboriginal people are being disproportionately locked up without being sentenced of a crime.
"Given the trauma that Aboriginal people and their families suffer when in prison and the unacceptably high number of Aboriginal deaths in custody, it should be an urgent priority to reduce the number of Aboriginal people in NSW prisons."
Ms Crellin went on to say the ALS would look forward to seeing how that is done, particularly after the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody this month.
An ALS snapshot study revealed similar findings to the BOSCAR report, showing young Aboriginal people had high rates of short-term demand, which was the result of bail being refused by police then granted by the courts at the first appearance.
The ALS is currently working with NSW Police to ensure appropriate bail conditions are imposed on children and young people through a joint project with Just Reinvest NSW and the ALS at Moree and Mt Druitt.
A snapshot study conducted recently by the ALS produced similar findings to the BOCSAR report, showing that Aboriginal young people had high rates of short-term remand. This was as a result of bail being refused by police, then granted by the courts in the first court appearance.
"Once you place a child in jail, they are much more likely to return as an adult. We should be aiming to divert young people away from the criminal justice system," Ms Crellin said.
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