The Dangers Inmates Face In Custody
There is only so much that we are exposed to through the media about the violence and dangers that are present within the Correctional Centres of NSW. We only see the most traumatic incidents, but it is an ongoing and daily issue that Corrective Services just can’t resolve. There are all sorts of offenders such as murderers and rapists. Majority of these inmates are aggressive and simply cannot be controlled by the prison guards on duty. In the last week we have seen two major incidents make headlines in the media. One of those incidents occurred at Longbay Correctional Centre and the other at Silverwater Correctional Centre.
BRAWL AT LONGBAY CORRECTIONAL CENTRE
Longbay Correctional Centre is a minimum to maximum security facility in Matraville, NSW. On Sunday, 7 April 2019 a wild brawl between seven inmates broke out in the yard. The prison guards could not break up the fight, so they resulted to using tear gas in order to make them comply with staff directions. Several inmates had cuts and wounds. Two of the inmates were stabbed during the brawl using gaol-made weapons and taken to hospital by a NSW Ambulance. One went to Prince of Wales Hospital and the other to St Vincent’s Hospital. The authorities asked for the offenders to be separated into different hospitals so that they are not in the same emergency room at the same time. Meanwhile, the prison was in lock down and Police seized the gaol-made weapons.
During an interview in 2018, Mr Sutherland who was a Senior prison guard officer stated that “prisoners will make a weapon out of anything and everything. Toothbrushes are very easy, they just file it on the ground to a sharp point, that’s a pretty common one. We supply them with razors, they take the blade out and with heat they sort of weld it on to a toothbrush as well so they’ve got something to slash … they’re very ingenious”. Mr Sutherland has seen the aftermath of attacks carried out with prison-made weapons.
To read more about violent offences, please check out the discussion here.
DEATH AT SILVERWATER CORRECTIONAL CENTRE
The day after, on Monday 8 April 2019, a violent murder occurred at Silverwater Correctional Complex. The first-time prisoner, a 39-year-old male, was found unresponsive in his cell and was unable to be revived. A crime scene was established inside the facility, which was examined by specialist officers. The cause or reason for his death is unknown however, his cellmate, who was a 35-year-old male was later charged with the murder. A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman told Yahoo News Australia that “Corrective Services NSW deeply regrets the death of a 39-year-old-man at the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre and extends its deepest sympathy to loved ones”. Please find the full article here.
To read more about the Law in relation to the offence of Murder please follow the link.
HOW THEY ARE PUNISHED
Inmates who are caught assaulting other inmates or are in possession of drugs whilst serving time mainly face “internal gaol charges” or for more severe offences, they face police charges. Some are punished by being moved into segregation, also known as solitary confinement. Inmates who have been moved into segregation are let out during the day for exercise and showers (hours allowed outside of their cell varies from each gaol, some only getting 1 hour a day). During their segregation period they do not have any contact with other inmates.
NSW already has some of the harshest prison conditions in Australia: prisoners are locked down for more hours in their cells than anywhere else in the country, and the state spends fewer dollars per inmate — $188.82, per day — compared with the national average of $221.92.
Our prison systems are clearly far from perfect and are unsafe for inmates that just want to do their time and be rehabilitated. Every aspect of the gaol system should be changed and more importantly a more secure and safe environment should be created. Corrective Services should investigate the management and placement of inmates, the response times for when an issue arises and what immediate actions can be taken when those issues arise.
COMPARISON WITH AN OVERSEAS SYSTEM
In the Netherlands, they have been consistently shutting down prisons in favour of rehabilitation centres that have been shown by data, to work. Old prisons are now even being used as housing for refugees. It is even stated that murderers have become fully reformed, due to therapeutic methods such as gardening or learning to cook. Their prisons look completely different to what we have in NSW, with more open, outdoor and yard space, with a focus on rehabilitation. They tackle the issues which caused or led the prisoner to offend in the first place. For example, if a drug addiction or some other addiction drove the prisoner to steal, they would treat the drug addiction. Another example is if the offender has debt troubles, they would receive counselling for that. In the Netherlands, offenders are also able to return to the workforce and contribute to society in an expedient manner due to a system of ankle device monitoring. This saves the government a tonne of money on prison expenses and allows them to use offenders’ resources for the better.
There is so much potential in this style of justice that the Australian government should really consider it.