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Criminal Justice Response Assignment

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Criminal Justice Response Assignment

First Peoples and Criminal Justice

Ms. Tanya Day was a 55-year-old Aboriginal woman who died at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Victoria, after an inattentive experience while in police custody. Ms. Day was pronounced dead on December 22, 2017, from a brain hemorrhage after sustaining a head injury while at the cells of Castlemaine police station (Callaway, 2019). Before her police custody, Ms. Day traveled on the V/Line train from Bendigo to Melbourne to visit her family. She was reported by the train conductor, Shaun Irvine, to the police for being unruly and drunk in public. The conductor had just begun checking the passengers’ tickets and found Ms. Day sleeping across the aisle (Hurley, 2020). According to Cubillo (2021), Irvine’s quest to the police was termed as unconscious bias on Aboriginal people as it was his first incident to call the police, yet at least three people per week were asleep on the train for quite similar reasons and were never reported. Under such circumstances, this case study will concentrate on the treatment of Tanya Day from the incident of her arrest and the constables’ negligence that contributed to her death.

Chronology of Events

At around 3:54 pm, Day was in police custody at Castlemaine for violating the rule of being publicly drunk. The sergeant on duty had requested Ms. Day to be checked every 20 minutes to ensure her welfare check. From the CCTV footage, Ms. Day fell more than five times while hitting her head within three hours of custody, with the most significant hit at around 4 pm close to an hour after her arrest (Callaway, 2019). The police saw a lump on Ms. Day’s head and called for an ambulance three hours later when the police had come to release her from custody. She was rushed to Bendigo Health and was flown to St. Vincent Hospital as an emergency. She remained in a coma for a while and succumbed to brain hemorrhage seventeen days later (Fletcher, 2019).


Royal Commission

McKinnon (2019) clarifies that since 1991 to date, more than 474 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people have succumbed to death about police treatments and negligence while in police custody. In recent years, such deaths have tremendously increased since data reveals that 1 out of 7 indigenous people in 1992 were arrested for minor offenses such as public drunkenness or unpaid fines rose to four people in 2020 (Loader, 2020). Following the many public appeals, the Royal Commission, in conjunction with the Victorian State government, replaced public drunkenness crime with public health responses in 2019 (Jack, 2021). Aboriginal people are likely to be twelve times under police custody for minor offenses than the white community in Australia. According to the 2020 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 29% of Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islanders are in prison, yet they represent relatively 3% of the national population (Cubillo, 2021). The Royal Commission is working to limit the number of indigenous incarnations to 15% by 2031 (Walsh et al., 2019). The scheme seems invalid unless the commission incorporates the public members to solve the existing injustices in judicial areas. Criminal Justice Response Assignment

Treatment of Tanya Day by Police

The treatment of Ms. Day by police is among the many deaths of indigenous people resulting from reduced dedication to the obligation of care owed to individuals in custody. Her death was highly contributed by criminal negligence by police officers through their failures to conduct the determined welfare checks in more recommendable ways (Fletcher, 2019). Her arrest beginning with the conductor’s decision, and the police seem to be purely attached to her Aboriginal race. She does not receive considerable care and protection during her custody, probably due to her race. Later on the same day of Ms. Day’s arrest, a non-indigenous woman who was severely drunk was driven off by the police to her home without police arrest or fine, concluding an unfair approach (Callaway, 2019). Failure to prosecute the guilty officers for their unruly misconduct was devastating to the family as were it not for their arrest and negligence, Ms. Day could be alive. The medical reports showed that Ms. Day had a 20% full recovery from the incident or could permanently be disabled (Hurley, 2020).

After Ms. Day’s Death

The death of Tanya Day was beginning the limelight for indigenous communities who had faced injustice while in police custody (Cubillo, 2021). She was the second family member to die in police custody after his uncle Harrison Barney died in 1982 due to epileptic disorder under unpaid fines conviction (Cunneen, 2019). Anyone found in such misconduct is treated as a public health response that will prevent relatable deaths in the future (Loader, 2020). If not for the train conductor’s unruly decision and police negligence, Ms. Day could be alive. Despite the release of the CCTV footage on police negligence to attend to Ms. Day, confirms many injustices by those in power. According to Walsh et al. (2019), increased deaths by an indigenous community in police custody is unlikely to decrease unless the public is included in the police verdict.


Taking into account all the information analyzed above, it becomes evident that unless the Royal Commission works with the public to eradicate injustices in the criminal system, a case similar to Ms. Day’s is due to happen in the future. Thus, there is a need to retrain and update police officers on measures to protect welfare checks and safety priority for those in police custody to limit indigenous incarnations regardless of their race.

Reference List

  • Anthony, T., Jordan, K., Walsh, T., Markham, F., Williams, M. and McGlade, H., 2021. 30 years on: Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommendations remain unimplemented.
  • (2019). Tanya Day inquest: coroner refers death in custody of Aboriginal woman for possible prosecution. The Guardian. [Online]. Available at: <> [Accessed Aug. 9, 2021]
  • Cubillo, E., 2021. 30th Anniversary of the RCIADIC and the ‘white noise of the justice system is loud and clear.Alternative Law Journal, p.1037969X211019139.
  • Cunneen, C., 2019. Institutional racism and (in) justice: Australia in the 21st century.Decolonization of Criminology and Justice1(1), pp.29-51.
  • Fletcher, K., 2019. Tanya Day’s family demands justice.Green Left Weekly, (1238), p.7.
  • Hurley, M., 2020. The beginnings of justice for Aboriginal deaths in custody?: The coronial inquest into the death of Tanya Louise day.Precedent (Sydney, NSW), (159), pp.4-7.
  • Jack Latimore. (2021). Family of death-in-custody victim Tanya Day honoured for law reform activism. [Online]. Available at: <> [Accessed Aug. 9, 2021]
  • Loader, I., 2020. A question of sacrifice: The deep structure of deaths in police custody.Social & Legal Studies29(3), pp.401-420.


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