April 11, 2007: Deaths in Custody Justice for Karl Woods
Next week marks the first anniversary of the terrible death of Karl Woods in police custody. Karl Woods was arrested at the scene of a home invasion on April 11th, 2006. Police report that he struggled and had to be ‘subdued’. Once arrested he was placed in the back of a police van, but according to their initial reports when he was checked ‘a short time later’ he was dead.
Mr Woods' family members – and all of us who have seen the photos – are horrified by the obvious physical injuries he appears to have sustained. The police admit no fault, and no police officers have been stood down.
Nearly a year on, and the police have still not finalised their own reports into his death for the Coroners office. Consequently, no Coronial Inquest has been carried out. This has many parallels to the Palm Island case and the silence, inaction and injustice must be challenged. 2004 Palm Island death in custody.
Deaths such as these must never occur. 99 Indigenous deaths in custody around the 1980’s led to Australia’s most expensive Royal Commission at the time (Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody). It took nearly four years and handed down 339 recommendations, and makes for sobering reading. Unfortunately it carried no legal weight and instead gathers dust.
We maintain that most of the recommendations have never been properly implemented by the police and prison systems, nor by governments. In WA where Indigenous people make up around 3% of the general population, our prisoner population is over 40% Indigenous, and a new report indicates that in juvenile detention centres this figure rises to a staggering 74%.
The Deaths In Custody Watch Committee, have been working with the Woods family and other community members and are mounting a public campaign including a letter of demand to the Premier and a rally on Black Friday this month (the 13th April, 12 noon, Cnr of St Georges Tce and Barrack St). Please join us to call for justice; for Karl, the Woods’ family, and all those who have died in custody.
We must change the systemic racism and inequality which imprisons so many indigenous people. We must hold to account all those involved in deaths in custody. We must stop deaths in custody. Please join us for the rally.
DEATH IN CUSTODY RALLY – CALL FOR JUSTICE FOR KARL WOODS - BLACK FRIDAY, 13TH APRIL, 12 NOON, CORNER OF ST GEORGES TCE AND BARRACK ST. Rally and speakers, followed by a march on the Premiers office.'