|dc.description.abstract||More than 25 years after Australia received the recommendations handed down by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) Australia’s Indigenous people are still being incarcerated at disproportionate rates compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts, regardless of the attempts made by government to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous people in Australia’s prisons. Scholars have studied prisoner reentry for many years, during which time several risk and protective factors of reincarceration have been identified. However, limited research has examined beyond the question of whether Indigenous people are more likely to return to prison compared to non-Indigenous people. While we know Indigenous people are over-represented at the back-end of the criminal justice system, as more Indigenous people return to prison, and return faster than non-Indigenous people, we have little empirical understanding as to why –Why are Australia’s Indigenous people compared to non-Indigenous people more at risk of reincarceration? The present thesis seeks to unpack this question and develop a better understanding of why Indigenous people are more at risk of reincarceration post-release than non-Indigenous people. In total, three studies using a combination of descriptive, Cox proportional hazard regressions, logistic regressions, chi-square and t-test analyses were conducted with 1238 Queensland Indigenous (n = 303) and non-Indigenous (n = 935) people.
The first study (Chapter 3) expands our understanding by: (a) examining group differences in characteristics within and between reincarcerated and successfully reintegrated people post-release for both groups; (b) identifying whether Indigenous compared to non-Indigenous people are more likely to be reincarcerated post-release; and (c) identifying whether any difference in risk of reincarceration can be partially explained by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples’ social experiences prior-to-prison, and/or their prison-life experiences. Results suggests that while there are group differences in characteristics between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, prison-life experiences can explain little to none of the difference in risk of reincarceration that exists between the two groups. Instead, evidence indicates the difference in risk of reincarceration can largely be explained by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples’ static risk factors—those that occurred before incarceration (i.e. demographic, prior criminal history, and social experiences prior-to-incarceration). However, considering risk factors can potentially affect other risk factors, it is possible that by using a single statistical model that controls for Indigenous status any interactive effects with Indigenous status may have been masked.
Study two (Chapter 4) expands on current empirical evidence in four ways. First, study two examines whether racial specific and racial neutral risk factors of reincarceration are present for Indigenous and/or non-Indigenous people. Results found evidence of racial specific risk factors of reincarceration being present for both groups. With evidence suggesting prisoner visitation is a racial specific protective factor against reincarceration for non-Indigenous people only. Study two further explored the visitation-reincarceration relationship to identify (a) if group differences in who gets visited exist; (b) whether there were differences in time to reincarceration for visited prisoners compared to non-visited prisoners; and (c) whether differences in visitation could be explained by social demographic circumstances prior-to-prison, criminal history, and travel distance for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Evidence showed differences between groups in the amount people w ere visited, time to reincarceration for visited and non-visited prisoners, and in the likelihood of who got visited.
Study three (Chapter 5) further develops our understanding of why Indigenous compared to non-Indigenous people are more at risk of reincarceration in three ways: (a) by examining whether risk of reincarceration for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people differ by residential location (i.e. city/urban vs rural/remote); (b) identifying how community disadvantage, remoteness, and accessing services post-release effects Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples’ risk of reincarceration; and (c) by exploring what support services are accessed post-release and by who. Results indicated that residential location does not affect risk of reincarceration for either group and no relationship was identified between community disadvantage and reincarceration for non-Indigenous people. However, results showed community disadvantage to be a protective factor against reincarceration for Indigenous people. Finally, evidence also indicated there are group differences in who accessed services post-release.
Collectively, the three studies presented in this thesis make a significant contribution to existing empirical knowledge of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples’ risk of reincarceration. Each study builds on the previous, adding a new piece of the puzzle to what is a complex and multifaceted problem. Overall, the evidence presented in this thesis further demonstrates why it is important for re-entry programs to not only be individually tailored, but also tailored to one’s local environment and culture. The dissertation concludes with a discussion and synthesis of the overall research findings, limitations, and suggestions for future reentry research with Indigenous people in Chapter 6.||