2.1 In 1991, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody found that the fundamental causes for over-representation of Aboriginal people in custody were not located within the criminal justice system. Such a claim has been echoed many times since. This chapter places the disproportionate incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today in social and historical context. It briefly traces the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ contact with the criminal justice system.
2.2 The chapter then goes on to develop a contemporary picture of the impact of the social determinants of incarceration on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including in the domains of education and employment, health and disability, housing and homelessness, and child protection and youth justice. It also highlights some of the many inquiries, initiatives and recommendations that have sought to address the disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.