Victims or offenders: who were the 11 Indigenous female prisoners who died in custody and were investigated by the Australian Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody?
There were 11 Indigenous females who died in custody and whose deaths were investigated by the Australian Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC). The RCIADIC is one of the most comprehensive inquiries conducted about Indigenous Australians, and it is often cited to support the introduction of Australian Indigenous justice policy reforms. This article describes the lives (as both victims and offenders) of the 11 females whose deaths were investigated by the RCIADIC. The inquiry was initially established to examine whether the state’s practices in prisons and watch-houses contributed to the 99 deaths that were investigated. This article documents how the deceased females arguably became invisible as both victims and offenders in favour of the Indigenous males who had died in custody, despite the fact that the inquiry attempted to include a racialized perspective. The article concludes by comparing the recommendations of the Manitoba Aboriginal Justice Inquiry - a Canadian inquiry that took place around the same time as the RCIADIC, and which, at the time, was able to adequately consider the difficulties facing Canadian Aboriginal women when confronted by the Manitoba justice system. This intersectional race and gender analysis illustrates that without proper consideration the needs of racialized women will remain unmet when having to contend with criminal justice and legal processes.