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Public Thursday Seminar: Professor David Brown, 'Justice Reinvestment: Winding Back Imprisonment?'

When Nov 28, 2019
Where Seminar Room, Institute of Criminology
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David Brown

Emeritus Professor David Brown, Law Faculty, UNSW, is a co-author of the innovative Criminal Laws (6th edn 2015), the leading student text in criminal law in NSW universities. He is widely published across the broad areas of criminal law, criminal justice, criminology and penology, both in Australia and internationally, and has served as a part time NSW Law Reform Commissioner. His most recent co-authored books include: Penal Culture and hyperincarceration: The revival of the prison, (2013) and Justice Reinvestment: Winding Back Imprisonment, (2015).


'Justice Reinvestment: Winding Back Imprisonment?'

Justice reinvestment emerged as a response to mass incarceration and racial disparity in imprisonment rates in the United States in 2003. This seminar is based on a collective research project, the results of which appeared in: Brown, Cunneen, Schwartz, Stubbs and Young, Justice Reinvestment: Winding Back Imprisonment, (2015) Palgrave MacMillan: London.

The project examined justice reinvestment from its origins, its potential as a mechanism for winding back imprisonment rates, and its portability to Australia, the United Kingdom and beyond. The seminar will briefly outline the principles and processes of justice reinvestment, including the early neighborhood focus on 'million dollar blocks' and the shift of focus through the Council of State Government’s practical implementation arm, Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), which concentrated mainly on criminal justice system reform, largely in probation and parole supervision, in an attempt to reduce the high rate of revocations leading to imprisonment. The project scrutinized the claims of evidence-based and data-driven policy, which have been used in the practical implementation strategies featured in bipartisan legislative criminal justice system reforms in the US.


This project took a comparative approach to justice reinvestment by examining the differences in political, legal and cultural contexts between the United States and Australia in particular. It argued for a community-driven approach, originating in vulnerable Indigenous communities with high imprisonment rates, as part of a more general movement for Indigenous democracy. While supporting a social justice approach, the project confronted the problematic features of the politics of locality and community, the process of criminal justice policy transfer, and rationalist conceptions of policy.


The seminar will provide an update on the promising results obtained in the first major JR project in Australia in the town of Bourke in western NSW.



Seminars generally take place in B3 from 5.30pm, with refreshments after for attendees
Institute of Criminology, Sidgwick Ave, Cambridge, CB3 9DA

These seminars are open to all interested in attending, with no ticket required
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