The processes of criminalization lay the foundation for creating significant disadvantage among Indigenous people across the former settler societies of Australia, New Zealand, and North America. Yet the massive incarceration of Indigenous people has not resulted in ensuring the safety of individuals within Indigenous communities. Imposed criminal justice systems have not ensured the maintenance of social order in Indigenous communities. This essay explores the relationship between Indigenous sovereignty and Indigenous overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.
Throughout Australia, the United States, Canada, and New Zealand, Indigenous communities continue to exercise authority or have at least attempted to develop localized methods of dealing with problems of social disorder. Indigenous practice has provided us with the opportunity and the necessity to rethink the possibilities of a postcolonial relationship between criminal justice institutions and Indigenous communities. The essay argues that the recognition of Indigenous claims to governance offer the possibility of new ways of thinking about criminal justice responses to entrenched social problems like crime.