Paid to jail

Issue 

Paid to jail

By Stephen Robson

PERTH — A study released by the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) has focused on the town of Wiluna, in Western Australia's mid-west. Police in the town of 250 people made 1071 arrests in the year to August. On an average night, 10% of the town are occupying the cells at the back of the police station.

Those jailed are mainly the once nomadic Mardu people. Only 1% of those jailed were non-Aboriginal residents. Documents obtained by ALS under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that a Sergeant Taylor received $41,000 above his salary just in the first five months of 1994 in prisoner meal allowances.

Taylor is paid a tax-free $13.53 per day per prisoner. He is not obliged to detail his subsequent spending on food for the prisoners.

Allegations have been made that Taylor has been feeding the prisoners kangaroo meat shot in hunting expeditions by police.

The ALS study explains that the mainly Aboriginal residents are four times more likely to be jailed in 1994 than they were in 1991. This rate is three times higher than other Aboriginal communities in WA. The incarceration rate for Aborigines in WA is 27 times that of non-Aborigines.