First Nations death in custody as Black Lives Matter protests rage globally
A First Nations man has died in a Western Australian prison over the weekend as Black Lives Matter protests continue across the world.
The 40-year-old Aboriginal man was found after collapsing at Acacia Prison, a privately-managed correctional facility in Wooroloo, an hour east of Perth.
The Department of Justice said in a statement the man could not be revived and was pronounced dead at hospital. The Department is set to conduct an internal review into the matter.
This is the first WA Aboriginal death in custody this year.
It’s understood the man’s death does not appear to be suspicious, however, as is practice with all deaths in custody, an inquest will be held at a later date.
International public service provider Serco has run Acacia Prison—WA’s largest prison—since 2006.
The death comes as tens of thousands gathered in cities across Australia over the weekend in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to protest the 400-plus First Nations deaths in custody that have occurred since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
The fate of Sydney’s rally appeared uncertain as the New South Wales Supreme Court ruled the protest shouldn’t happen on public health grounds. Minutes before the protest’s official start, the New South Wales Court of Appeal overturned the decision.
New data emerging over the weekend from Guardian Australia’s Deaths Inside database of deaths in custody from 2008 to the present shows there have been at least 434 First Nations deaths in custody since the Royal Commission.
The most recent analysis found agencies such as prisons, hospitals and police watchhouses failed to follow all of their own procedures in 41 percent of cases where First Nations people died.
The data also showed that for over one third (38 percent) of First Nations deaths, medical care was not given when required.
Deaths Inside also found First Nations women—the fastest growing prison population—were less likely to have received all appropriate medical care prior to death.
By Hannah Cross
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