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"Proposed solutions to the over-representation of Indigenous Australians and African Americans in Prisons."

Deakin Law School was represented at Harvard University recently, when Alfred Deakin Professor and Chair in Law, Mirko Bagaric was invited to participate in the Annual Symposium for the Harvard Journal of Racial and Ethnic Justice.

Professor Bagaric addressed the seminar with the topic, ‘Proposed solutions to the over-representation of Indigenous Australians and African Americans in Prisons’. His speech discussed topics from an article he recently contributed to the journal, entitled Three Things That A Baseline Study Shows Don’t Cause Indigenous Over-Imprisonment; Three Things That Might (But Shouldn’t) And Three Reforms That Will Reduce Indigenous Over-Imprisonment.The journal is produced by Harvard Law School and is primarily focused on social and economic issues that affect racial and ethnic minorities.

Professor Bagaric’s article looks at the fact that in spite of very different sentencing procedures, Australia and the USA retain a disproportionate number of indigenous Australians and African Americans, respectively, in their prisons. Professor Bagaric suggests two reforms: ensure prior convictions for minor crimes are not incorporated into a current punishment; and the introduction of a sentencing discount, acknowledging the predisposition of these groups to crime due to economic and social hardship.

The address was well received and generated many informed and insightful questions.

Professor Bagaric also took advantage of his time in the USA by meeting with academics at New York University, Harvard University, Boston University and Columbia University to discuss solutions for the incarceration crisis in Australia and the United States.

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