5.1 Recidivism rates in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison population are high. Up to 76% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners in 2016 had been imprisoned previously—compared with 49% of the non-Indigenous prison population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners are more likely to have been in prison at least five times previously, and are less likely than non-Indigenous prisoners to have never been in prison before.
5.2 The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry ask the ALRC to look into the ‘availability and effectiveness’ of programs, including prison programs, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders. In this chapter, the ALRC focuses on the importance of effective prison programs in reducing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recidivist prison population, and proposes that programs be developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples serving short sentences and who are held on remand, as well as for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
5.3 The ALRC also recognises the critical role that release on parole has in helping offenders transition out of prison and reintegrate into society. To this end, the ALRC makes proposals for law reform that aim to encourage eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners to apply for parole. Throughcare programs that provide support for people released, who would otherwise be unsupervised at the end of their sentences, are also canvassed.