About Smart Justice
Smart Justice is an evidence-based and human rights centred approach to reforming criminal justice policies and shaping the agenda on criminal justice around fairness and equality. There are two affiliated Smart Justice coalitions: Smart Justice for Young People and Smart Justice for Women. Both coalitions recognise the need for a justice system that is fair and inclusive while creating opportunities for everyone to thrive.
Both Smart Justice for Young People and Smart Justice for Women are committed to transforming our justice system. Building a fair community means addressing discrimination, disadvantage, racism and the systemic issues that lead to justice system involvement, and providing early intervention, diversion and rehabilitation.
The evidence shows that economic inequality and poverty increase a person’s vulnerability to criminal justice involvement. The impact of these socioeconomic factors is felt most acutely by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with mental health issues or drug dependencies, and those experiencing homelessness, all of whom are grossly overrepresented in Victorian prisons.
It is clear that we need to address systemic racism, entrenched poverty and other forms of disadvantage if we want to tackle the increasing criminalsation of vulnerable community members. Only when we fund services properly and distribute opportunities fairly can we reduce criminalisation.
We believe that a fair Victoria requires justice reinvestment and government prioritisation of community-based programs that deal with the underlying causes of crime, such as drug dependency, poverty and homelessness. Justice reinvestment strategies have a proven track record of reducing offending, while prisons have consistently failed to make the community safer. Investing in employment, healthcare and education has much longer-term value to the community than increasing the number and size of prisons.
The organisations involved in Smart Justice have a vast array of experience working in the criminal legal system with those affected by it. We are passionate about promoting safe and vibrant communities. That’s why we support making justice smarter.
Smart Justice was initially made possible with funding support from the Reichstein Foundation, Portland House Foundation, Australian Communities Foundation (Peter Griffin Family) Fund and the Myer Foundation.
Smart Justice for Women
Smart Justice for Women (SJFW) is a coalition of nearly 40 organisations committed to reducing the criminalisation of women in Victoria. Smart Justice for Women is coordinated by the Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria and the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women.READ MORE
Smart Justice for Young People
Smart Justice for Young People is a coalition of over 40 leading social services, health, legal, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and youth advocacy organisations working together to create change for children and young people who come into contact with the criminal legal system. Smart Justice for Young People is coordinated by YouthLaw and WEstJustice.READ MORE