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Fine default policy's contribution to indigenous incarceration

Lee, A. Fine default policy's contribution to indigenous incarceration.

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Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people (Indigenous people) are significantly overrepresented in the Australian prisons being 13 times greater than the imprisonment rate for non-Indigenous Australians. In particular, fine default ultimately leading to imprisonment has a significant impact, as 43 percent of the 1,358 people who entered prison in WA for clearing fine defaults in 2013, were Indigenous Australians. This paper explores the legal policy settings for fine defaults leading to imprisonment such as warrant of commitment imposed for fine default or breach of community service order, and imprisonment being a more efficient option as fines are paid off concurrently rather than cumulatively with community service orders. These policies impact the group suffering from vulnerabilities and disadvantages, such as poverty, along with lack of knowledge and access to legal assistance. Further, Indigenous women especially are at a disadvantage. This paper agrees with the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) Proposal 6-1 in that “State and territory governments should abolish provisions in fine enforcement statutes that provide for imprisonment in lieu of unpaid fines.” It is argued that fine default should not result in the imprisonment of the defaulter, as it does not uphold the rule of law for all, being unjust, unfair and inefficient on the Indigenous people. This paper is set out in order as follows: introduction; the fine enforcement policy’s contribution to incarceration; the rule of law; and the conclusion.

Item Type: Others
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
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United Nations SDGs: Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
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