No hope in sight for SA prison system

15 May 2006 archivemedia

Nearly two years after promises of a new women’s prison and a major restructure of the state’s entire prison system, nothing has happened.

Shadow Corrections Minister Michelle Lensink said the result was a ‘revolving door’ prison system that turned unrehabilitated prisoners back onto the streets to commit further crime.

“In September 2004, the Rann Government said that ‘a major restructure of the prison system would take place in the next 12 months’ and replacement of the Northfield Women’s Prison was overdue*,” Ms Lensink said.

“This week, 20 months later, Minister for Correctional Services Carmel Zollo admitted in Parliament that the government had still not completed its promised study into South Australia’s future prison needs.

“South Australia has already seen the outcome of poorly housed prisoners, when an inmate set fire to a wing of the Northfield Women’s Prison in March 2004, forcing the Rann Government to rebuild it.

“Sadly, the continued neglect of our corrections system not only places prisoners at risk, but compromises community safety.

“There is no question we need good policing and appropriate sentencing to combat crime but under Labor the vast majority of jailed offenders are simply ‘parked’ in prison with no attempt at rehabilitation.

“Overcrowding, inadequate drug rehabilitation and a lack of commitment to making jailed offenders work and learn new skills while in prison will not help them return to society as model citizens!

“SA’s Chief Justice John Doyle recently warned the government that tough approaches to law and order had to be met with an equally determined commitment to rehabilitation.

“Unfortunately, since 2002 this government’s blinkered approach to law and order has largely ignored the massive problem of recidivism.

“The government’s failure to deliver on the now long-overdue restructure of the prison system and to build the new women’s prison is only further confirmation that nothing is likely to change soon.”

*(The Advertiser, September 2 2004)