I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Correctional Services a question on remand rates.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The annual report of the Department for Correctional Services states that some 60 per cent of remandees stay in the system for fewer than 14 days and, of the prison population, some 33 per cent of prisoners were unsentenced as at 30 June 2005. A report dated May 2006 from the Australian Institute of Criminology compares remand rates for Victoria and South Australia. One of the authors of that report is Rick Sarre. The report states that remandees in South Australia are more likely to be homeless, unemployed or have some form of mental disorder, and that remandees are also more likely than sentenced prisoners to die in custody.
Chief Justice John Doyle has made several remarks that have been published in The Advertiser and also in the Law Society Journal. One of the issues that the Chief Justice has raised is that attempts by the courts to improve efficiency are limited by a lack of funding, and he has stated that he is becoming increasingly concerned about growing delays within the courts, particularly the criminal courts, because the time taken between arrest and determination of guilt or innocence is increasing. My questions for the minister are:
1. Can she confirm whether the sites of Mobilong and Port Augusta prisons have been used as places for remand sentences within the past six months?
2. What strategies is she seeking to implement to address the issue of the high level of remand in South Australia?
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO (Minister for Correctional Services): In relation to what the courts do, it is not a matter for me to comment but, rather, for the Attorney- General in the other place. If the courts avail themselves of remand provisions, clearly it is not something that I have any jurisdiction over. We have around 3 500 prisoners admitted to our prison system each year, with a daily average of some 1 500. The department also manages approximately 5 500 community correctional offenders annually, and it would be fair to say that, when we deprive some 3 500 people of their liberty, there are likely to be many challenges in the system.
The honourable member is correct: remand provisions are used to a great extent in South Australia.
As I said, it is probably difficult for me as Minister for Correctional Services to comment on that. We manage our prisoners to the best of our ability and every prisoner is casemanaged.
Yatala prison is used for remand prisoners, and I am certain that the honourable member’s party also did that when in government. It is a means of managing the prison population throughout our state. I will need to obtain advice whether Mobilong is used for remandees as well as Port Augusta and bring back a response.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As a supplementary question, has the minister had any discussions with the Attorney-General in relation to the impact of the courts system on the remand rates?
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: Whether the courts make remand provisions is something that the Attorney-General would need to take up with the judiciary. It is a different arm of government, part of the executive, and it is at liberty to sentence people or to make provisions in the way that it sees fit.
Tuesday 6 February 2007
In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (8 June 2006).
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: I advise that:
The Adelaide Remand Centre and Yatala Labour Prison accommodate the majority of South Australia's male remand offender population.
The AdelaideWomen's Prison accommodates the majority of the female remand offender population.
Mobilong has always accommodated some dual status prisoners.
Dual status prisoners are those who are sentenced and also remanded for other matters.
Mobilong on occasion accommodates a small number of remand prisoners.
Port Augusta Prison accommodates both male and female remand prisoners from the surrounding region and the APY lands. It is a multi-purpose facility for both sentenced and remand prisoners.