In 2012 the Queensland State Government announced that it was shutting down the Murri Courts program. The development of the court and others like it across Australia were a response to key findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody that recommended increasing the practice of Aboriginal justice practices and customary law as a way of making the formal system more cultural responsive to Australian indigenous people.While the Murri Courts were not based on customary law, many advocates have argued that the state of the criminal justice system in Australia is so bad for indigenous people that some use of customary law should be permitted. Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, argued in 2012 for example that:If Indigenous communities are not supported to self regulate and if governments seek to reduce the standing of internal governance systems, then this has the potential to diminish that system of law within those communities. In addition, the non-recognition of customary law by Australian institutions further alienates Indigenous people from the Australian law, as it makes no recognition of our own justice system. If the government’s intention is to clarify and strengthen justice systems for Indigenous people, then it is logical that existing systems of law should be reinforced and strengthened.While few people dispute the significant problems for indigenous people in Australia’s criminal justice system, there are also many critics of the proposal to allow for the use of customary law in criminal justice matters.Write an essay that addresses the following questions:1. What is customary law in Australia?a. What other countries or jurisdictions have allowed Indigenous peoples to implement their own justice systems or practices?2. What are the key arguments for extending the use of customary law in the formal criminal justice system, as well as the key arguments for rejecting its use?3. In your opinion, should customary law be used in the criminal justice system in Australia? Why or why not? Here, you should focus on making a sociological argument and not simply present your own opinion.4. What criminological theories best support or refute your proposition?
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