Jul 30th 2020

Closing the gap targets won’t end deaths in custody

Today’s Closing the Gap targets are not enough to fix the 232 years of systemic police violence, deaths in custody and everyday racism that have reached a crisis point.

Just this week there has been another death in custody in a WA prison, federal and state Attorneys-General refused to commit to raising the age of criminal responsibility, and the government has ignored solutions to end incarceration within ten years.

GetUp’s First Nations Campaign Director Larissa Baldwin said:

“Setting targets for decades down the track isn’t enough to end the deaths in custody that are happening right now. 

“Worse still, the government has not committed a single dollar of funding to achieving these targets, this is outrageous. 

“We have had seven targets in place for twelve years and only made progress on two, now there are sixteen. Why should our communities believe that this is going to change anything?

“Black lives matter, the life of every single person who has died in custody matters, and we need solutions that will end deaths in custody now - not in decades. 

“The government may say a seventy-three year target to end over-representation in incarceration rates has been abandoned, but it’s still clearly written between the lines.

“We won’t see any of these so-called “parity” targets met within our lifetime. 

“These targets show the government is not listening to the families and communities on the ground, they want people to stop marching but won’t show us they’re listening.

”In the last month millions of people around the world have made perfectly clear that we need serious reforms to end Black deaths in custody now.

“The urgency of this crisis is not matched in these targets, they do not address the 232 years of systemic police violence and deaths in custody.

“Serious reforms have been spelled time and time again, they could be made today: repeal punitive bail laws, end mandatory sentencing, stop imprisoning children, put an end to police investigating police and stop putting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in solitary confinement.”