Alarm about growing prisoner numbers from former correctional officer Phil Brown

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Former NT correctional officer Phil Brown gave an impassioned speech at the launch of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement in Alice Springs last month.

He spoke about his alarm over the steady rise in prisoner numbers in the NT and the evidence that shows Aboriginal people are far worse off than non-Aboriginal people at every stage of the NT justice process.

Phil joined NT Correctional Services in 1985 as a young Prison Officer based at Darwin Prison, as it was known in those days. He says the prisoner numbers in the centre averaged around 110 to 130 and were around 85 per cent Aboriginal.

Today, there are more than 1100 prisoners in Darwin Correctional Centre alone, and about 86 per cent of them are Aboriginal.

In 2007, as Superintendent of Alice Springs Correctional Centre, Phil said there were very few women in his care. Today, women are the fastest growing cohort in the Northern Territory prison system.

Phil works as the General Manager Workforce and Partnerships for Catholic Care NT. As a member of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement Reference Committee, he provided governance and guidance for the final Agreement.

Phil is a descendant of the Stolen Generation. His great grandmother was removed from her community and placed in Kahlin Compound in Darwin when it was operational from 1913 to 1939. His family are descendants from the Marri Ammu language group from Rak Tjindi country along the coast north of the mouth of the Moyle River, between Daly River and Wadeye.

You can read Phil’s speech in full here.

CEO Deborah Di Natale, Phil Brown and Selena Uibo
SIGNED UP: Phil Brown signed the Aboriginal Justice Agreement with Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Selena Uibo and NT Council of Social Service CEO Deborah Di Natale in Alice Springs on 18 October 2021.

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