Justice Reinvestment and Inequality in Criminal Justice

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: Booth 58
Oral Presentation
David BROWN , Law Faculty University of NSW, Sydney, Australia
Justice Reinvestment is a relatively new concept which has gained political traction in a range of jurisdictions, particuarly the USA, but also the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The basic aim is to redirect resources from imprisonment and reinvest them in high imprisonment neighbourhoods to build community infrastructure and programs that reduce crime and recidivism and to reduce imprisonment rates. The concept emerged out of progressivist think tanks and has since been taken up by a range of political actors including Republican state governors and leading figures in the Christian right in the USA.

Its origins lie in an attempt to combat the extreme racial disparity in imprisonment rates, captured in the notion of 'mass imprisonment', where imprisonment is so widespread that it disproportionately affects whole (usually racial) communities.  Recent critiques from some of its leading proponents suggest that this aim of Justice Reinvestment to redress the effects of mass imprisonment has been lost in the emphasis on recidivism and post sentence supervision.

Using the example of over representation of Aboriginals in Australian prisons, this paper will explore the extent to which Justice Reinvestment as a concept and as a practice and program, is capable of redressing historical and contemporary inequalities and discrimination in criminal justice outcomes.