Magazine article New Internationalist

Grave Concerns - Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

Magazine article New Internationalist

Grave Concerns - Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

Article excerpt

[Graph Not Transcribed]

For a moment, even the West Australian State Coroner, Evelyn Vicker, was helpless. Just after she handed her report of the inquiry into the death of Donald Keen to the family - murmuring 'I am sorry' - she left the courthouse with tears in her eyes. For Linda, the young deceased's mother, it was yet another disappointment. 'Nothing's changed. We [Aboriginal Australians] never win,' she sighed.

Donald Keen was only 18 when he entered Hakea Prison. Unlike the juvenile detention centres where he had spent much of his young life, this was an adult prison with mostly convicted criminals. The photo in Linda's hands of her son shows a young boy with soft skin, a gentle look and shiny hair: too fragile for the environment he was in. Donald was sexually abused by his father and was afraid of being abused again by the elder inmates. Auditory hallucinations caused him to hang himself in his cell. The Coroner's report details Donald's cries for help: the times he had shown signs of self-harm. …

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