(Herald Sun, 28 October 2014)
No matter how different we are, we all want a safe community. We all want less crime and fewer victims as a result. Often we assume to achieve that, we must jail as many offenders as possible to keep the "rest of us" safe.
But that fails to recognise that many offenders are victims of crime themselves. In fact, 34 per cent of young people in custody in Victoria have had previous child protection involvement; 64 per cent of young people in the juvenile justice system have experienced child abuse, neglect or trauma and a staggering 87 per cent of female prisoners across Australia have been victims of sexual, physical or emotional abuse, with most having experienced multiple forms of abuse.
The proportion of Victoria's prison population with an Acquired Brain Injury being an extraordinary 42 per cent of men and 33 per cent of women suggests family violence could be the cause of the ABI for a number of the women concerned. There is a strong correlation between traumatic histories of physical or sexual abuse and later drug use among female prisoners.
Rob Hulls is director, Centre for Innovative Justice, RMIT University.