Submission: The Value of a Justice Reinvestment Approach to Criminal Justice in Australia

In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry, the Human Rights Law Centre has explained how addressing the underlying causes of crime is the most effective and cost efficient way to prevent crime, reduce reoffending and make our communities safer. Imprisonment rates in Australia are increasing, together with associated social and economic costs.  The impacts of interaction with the criminal justice system also have a disproportionate impact on particular groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, young people and people experiencing homelessness.

A justice reinvestment approach provides a valuable framework to prevent crime and promote community safety, reduce imprisonment rates, focus on diversionary measures and the promotion of rehabilitation within the criminal justice system, and deliver associated social and economic benefits for the broad community.

The principles of a justice reinvestment approach are therefore entirely compatible with respect for human rights and the Terms of Reference for this Inquiry raise issues that directly engage Australia's international human rights obligations.  Indeed, in its recommendations to Australia in 2010, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination specifically recommended that Australia “adopt a justice reinvestment strategy, continuing and increasing the use of Indigenous courts and conciliation mechanisms, diversionary and prevention programs and restorative justice strategies”.

This submission does not address all of the Committee’s Terms of Reference. Rather, it focuses on how a human rights framework supports the adoption of a justice reinvestment approach by all Australian governments and, indeed, how a justice reinvestment approach would contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights and fulfilment of Australia’s international legal obligations.

A copy of the submission can be found here: The Value of a Justice Reinvestment Approach to Criminal Justice in Australia

A HRLC media release about the submission can be found here.