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One country, two laws in Australia's racialized justice system

Decades after landmark report, Australia again confronts indigenous incarceration

MELBOURNE -- When a landmark Australian government-backed commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody delivered its findings in early 1991, it blamed "overwhelmingly different" levels of incarceration between the indigenous Aboriginal community and others for the loss of 99 native Australian lives in prisons over the previous decade.

More than a quarter-century later, a stark racial divide within Australia's justice system not only persists, statistics prove it is worse than before. Comprising just 3% of the population, indigenous Australians today account for 27% of all prisoners -- double the proportion cited by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody as proof that "too many Aboriginal people are in custody too often."

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