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Indigenous Women's Offending Patterns: A Literature Review

NCJ Number
Lorana Bartels
Date Published
July 2010
47 pages
This literature review provides data on Indigenous women's offending for Australia's New South Wales, the Northern Territory, and South Australia.
Data are presented on offender rates and the proportion of female offenders who are Indigenous. The data show that in New South Wales, the Northern Territory, and South Australia, Indigenous women are between 9 and 16 times more likely to offend than their non-Indigenous counterparts; this is a much greater over-representation than for men (8-10 times more likely). The issue of over-policing is also examined in this context. Data are presented on community corrections and periodic detention. The most common community corrections order served by Indigenous women in 2007-08 was a supervision order, with 82 percent serving such an order. Most information in the report relates to Indigenous women as prisoners, including information on imprisonment rates and numbers. Notably, the rate of Indigenous women's imprisonment across Australia increased 10 percent between 2006 and June 2009. In 2007-08, Indigenous women composed 29 percent of women in prison, compared with 24 percent for Indigenous men. Indigenous women generally serve shorter sentences than their non-Indigenous counterparts, which suggest that Indigenous women are being imprisoned for more minor offenses, notably public order offenses. The characteristics of Indigenous female prisoners are also indicated in this report. Indigenous women's role as mothers and caregivers is also examined. The report calls for additional research into the needs of Indigenous women in prison who have infants and young children with them. The report considers the appropriateness and ease of access to programs that will enable these prisoners to keep their children with them, as well as the adequacy of efforts to meet their needs upon release. Data are also provided on female juvenile Indigenous offenders. The relevance of family violence to Indigenous women's offending is explored as well. 8 figures, 15 tables, and 68 references