Keynote address: Critical Research and Institutional Violence: the institutionalisation of crime statistics

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
2015, pp. 13 - 33
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Prison is a form of ‘white on black’ institutional violence for Indigenous Australians (Blagg 2008). This violence can manifest physically through deaths in custody, psychologically through isolation and separation from relationships, or collectively by threatening community cohesiveness by removing Indigenous members. The violence is also symbolic: it asserts the dominance of non-Indigenous punitive agendas over Indigenous peoples and their regulatory systems, and extending white forms of control originating in the Protectionist era (Hogg 2001). Research of criminologists that seeks to rationalise the over-incarceration of Indigenous Australians by attributing it to the neutral application of laws to patterns of Indigenous offending provides a juridical basis for the incarceration that conceals institutional biases. It presents imprisonment as based on objective and evidence-based legal decisions that overlooks both subjective factors in sentencing and decisions in policing. This paper argues that this research is flawed in its methodology and assumptions. Such flaws contribute to the institutional violence by reinforcing notions of Indigenous criminality and the righteousness of Anglo-Australia’s punitive response.
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