Re­build call for ‘de­hu­man­is­ing’ jail

Albany Extra - - News - Tim Ed­munds

The con­di­tions at Al­bany Re­gional Prison have been de­scribed as “de­hu­man­is­ing” and sec­tions “un­fit for pur­pose” by the cor­rec­tive ser­vices watch­dog after it was re­vealed pris­oner pop­u­la­tion has dou­bled in the past 18 months.

In a re­port tabled to Par­lia­ment on Tues­day, In­spec­tor of Cus­to­dial Ser­vices Neil Mor­gan called for ur­gent up­grades to sec­tions of the prison, de­scrib­ing the prison as “un­der pres­sure” and “over­crowded”.

Mr Mor­gan said the dou­bling of pris­on­ers in the past 18 months was due to an in­crease in re­mand and max­i­mum se­cu­rity pris­on­ers lead­ing to over­crowd­ing with al­most all cells dou­ble-bunked.

Key find­ings from the re­port after the in­spec­tion in Fe­bru­ary found none of the prison’s four units met mod­ern stan­dards, in par­tic­u­lar unit one which was built as the orig­i­nal prison in 1966.

“The pris­oner ac­com­mo­da­tion in unit one is de­hu­man­is­ing and un­fit for pur­pose. So is the rest of the unit one precinct, which in­cludes the kitchen, med­i­cal cen­tre, ed­u­ca­tion, pro­grams and the man­age­ment unit for prob­lem­atic pris­on­ers,” he said.

“And none of Al­bany’s cells meet na­tional or in­ter­na­tional stan­dards for dou­bled-up ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

While the in­spec­tor’s over­view of the max­i­mum-se­cu­rity prison de­clared Al­bany was “do­ing well” the in­crease in pop­u­la­tion had placed it un­der pres­sure.

“The prison is un­der stress as its in­fra­struc­ture, staff re­sources and sup­port ser­vices have not kept with num­bers, let alone the chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics, needs and com­plex­i­ties,” Mr Mor­gan said.

“The prison has in­suf­fi­cient em­ploy­ment for pris­on­ers, too few pro­grams and lim­ited ed­u­ca­tion.”

Mr Mor­gan said unit one needed to be re­built as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

“The Depart­ment of Jus­tice is well aware of these de­fi­cien­cies and risks but says that Trea­sury is un­likely to sup­port any up­grade pro­pos­als un­til a long-term Statewide cus­to­dial plan is fi­nalised,” he said.

“This is un­der­stand­able given the high cost of prison builds, the State’s fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion and the need for proper plan­ning. But some­times things just need to be done, and done now. The unit one precinct is one of those things.”

Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices Com­mis­sioner Tony Has­sall said it was pleas­ing the tone of the re­port ac­knowl­edged Al­bany Re­gional Prison and staff were do­ing the best they could in a chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment. He said the dou­bling of the prison pop­u­la­tion in the past three years in­evitably had a “flowon ef­fect on how it op­er­ates”.

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