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Corrections and Rehabilitation – Remand

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 5 June 2023

Tags: Corrections, Justice, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - In last year's Budget, the description for the line item Southern Remand Centre -Additional Operational Funding, said the funding was for rehabilitation and reintegration staff and that:

The operating model will support remandees to adjust to life within the prison environment and also to prepare for future release recognising that people are capable of change.

Is this accurate? Is it appropriate that the remand centre's operating model assumes guilt with remandees, and how do you reconcile that with the articles of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights which requires accused persons to be given treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons, and the presumption of innocence?

Ms ARCHER - Chair, I do not accept the premise that they are assumed to be sentenced. I am not quite sure..

Dr WOODRUFF - This came from the words in the Budget description for the Southern Remand Centre - Additional Operational Funding, and it said that the funding was for rehabilitation and reintegration and that

The operating model of the new Southern Remand Centre will support remandees to adjust to life within the prison environment and prepare for future release, recognising people are capable of change.

To me, that assumes guilt. It assumes they have committed a crime and will need to be released.

Ms ARCHER - It possibly could have been better worded; but the intent is that they be given an opportunity to have access to some services, should they wish. Some people are on remand for a longer period of time than others, and it's intended that they be able to engage in something meaningful - or start something meaningful - should they wish. Unfortunately, not everyone in the Remand Centre will be released but we are not making them do anything; it's about accessibility, should they wish to start something while they happen to be in the Remand Centre. That's the best way I can describe it.

If someone is in the Remand Centre awaiting trial for long period of time because it's a complex Supreme Court trial - say, 12 months, even though that's an unacceptably long period - why should they sit around and not be able to access and engage in education and training, should they wish to do so?

It is possibly poorly worded; but it's not intended to assume guilt. It's intended to ensure access.

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay; thanks. The words 'recognising that people are capable of change' does speak to me as an assumption that there's something to change, from something that is wrong in the first place. It's very poor wording.

Ms ARCHER - The secretary has reminded me it may be drug and alcohol therapeutic services as well.

Dr WOODRUFF - They may be innocent, and not need to change anything.

Ms ARCHER - Exactly.

Dr WOODRUFF - Between 2013-2022, the number of unsentenced prisoners in remand has almost doubled, from 114 to 207. The proportion of people held for under one month has declined from 40 per cent under a Greens corrections minister, to 26 per cent now. Those held for over a year has increased from 0 per cent to 8 per cent. That means that in 2022, 16 people were imprisoned for one year, under you, minister, without being convicted of a crime. This trend has not been improving. Do you think that's good enough, and what are you doing to address it?

Ms ARCHER - No, it's not good enough and we don't like having figures like that. The number of remandees has increased. We now have the Southern Remand Centre to separate remandees from the general prison population, which is in line with best practice guidelines. Sentenced inmate numbers have remained very stable over the period of 10 months. Male remand numbers have risen nearly 40 per cent, so we are seeing an increase in those entering our prison system - for whatever reason. Some will be innocent; some won't. All we can deal with is the consequence of that. We have built the Southern Remand Centre to ensure we have best practice and modern, fit-for-purpose facilities. We've ensured that we have upgrades to key facilities existing at Risdon Prison as well.

Dr WOODRUFF - Backloads in courts.

Ms ARCHER - I don't know what else I can say other than we try to deal with the problem in terms of providing the best housing possible for remandees. The court system is out of our control in terms of the numbers there. I think we can accept that there is an issue in our community as to why there are increased crime rates in the first place. Again, we have to address this across government with a multi-pronged approach to ensure that we address the issue of those offending behaviours and, as I have been talking about, reduce recidivism as well.