Michelle Lensink

Remandees Clogging SA Prisons

SA courts have bogged down so much that prisons at Port Augusta and Mobilong are housing an overflow of remand prisoners from Adelaide who are awaiting their day in court. (Friday, 9 June 2006)

SA courts have bogged down so much that prisons at Port Augusta and Mobilong are housing an overflow of remand prisoners from Adelaide who are awaiting their day in court.

Shadow Correctional Services Minister Michelle Lensink said her counterpart Minister Carmel Zollo appeared to neither know nor care about the situation.

“In response to questioning in Parliament, Minister Zollo seemed to know nothing about the remand overflow to Port Augusta and Mobilong,” Ms Lensink said.

“What is more concerning however, is her confession that she is not taking any responsibility for the growing level of prisoners on remand arising from inefficiencies in the criminal justice system.

“This is in spite of Chief Justice John Doyle giving clear messages that he is concerned at the adverse effects on the criminal justice system of inefficiencies in our courts.

“It is incomprehensible that the Minister has not raised this subject with the Attorney-General, given the warnings from the Chief Justice.”

Ms Lensink said SA’s high remand rates also carried risks for remandees.

“South Australia has the highest remand rate in Australia – 33 percent of our prison population is unsentenced, with 60 precent in custody for less than 14 days,” she said.

“A new Australian Institute of Criminology report has revealed that South Australian remandees are:

• more likely to be homeless, unemployed, or have some form of mental disorder

• more likely to die in custody than sentenced prisoners

“Victims of crime pay the price for the problems of the SA justice system with poor outcomes in court because of a reliance on fading witness memories at long-delayed trials

“At the same time there are poor outcomes for the 70 percent of remandees, who are found not guilty after weeks or months in custody.

“It is time for Minister Zollo and the Rann Government to take responsibility for this situation and act to ensure the best outcome for all South Australians, including victims of crime and the remandees who are clogging up the prison system.”

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