Friday, December 6, 2002

Australian Prison Conditions: Justice Action In 'JAIL'?

In spite of the recent crackdown on letters to and from JA in and out of NSW jails, we have a lot of material at JA from people who are or have been guests of the correctional system or who are their friends and relations. However, we seem to have fewer letters since Framed was banned.

Concerns (and these aren't new, but) are often raised about: Court delays - Food and Nutrition - communication with the outside - RACE RELATIONS - visitors rights and treatment of children - medication - access to computers and education - violence and sexual assault - Urine tests - box visits - segro - being arbitrarily moved from one jail to another -Employment for ex-prisoners - support for people on parole - dental and medical care.

Sorry we can't include more but here 1s a sample of what people have told us recently:

Medication: Often people don't even know what they're getting in jail. They get out with no idea what symptoms they might get from withdrawal and no letter for doctor to follow up their case, NSW parolee October 2002.

Computers: Why can't people in medium and maximum security have access to personal computers in our cells? NSW September 2002.

Dental care: I was in for 3 years and was supposed to get dentures but because I'm now on work release , they say I'm not eligible, but I can't afford to pay for these. NSW September 2002.

Segregation?: [Solitary Confinement] I have been locked up in my cell now for 18 days for nothing. Only reason I've been given is that other inmates have association problems with me. I arrived here (18 days ago) after being tipped from here only 2 weeks before. Since then I have been given a maximum of one hour exercise in a yard connected to my cell ..but I am not in segro as they remind me". NSW August 2002.

Property lost: During my holiday at DCS, I had a lot of my property stolen and my [computer] hard drive 'wrecked' although my cost for all the property was about $3,000 I only asked for $700.00 and they just won't reply to my letters. It's not the money that upsets me but the injustice. NSW September 2002.

Jobs after jail:
She had a drug conviction some years ago - was selected for public service job in August. A few days before she was due to start, the department concerned told her she couldn't have the job. She has also been advised that she can't sit on the committee of any organisation (e.g. NSW Justice Advocacy or similar).

Violence: I'm quite willing to write Articles for you's to publish for others to read and be aware of what is happening inside these four walls. We must never let the injustice breed within these walls! Violence breeds violence! Product: slave labour, frustration, anger, Occ Health & safety is abused day in and out! Queensland November 2002.

Box visits and drinks from vending machines
: "Why can't visitors buy them and pass them through the officer who is watching all the time?" NSW November 2002, Meant to be punishment so can't get drinks.

Department of Corrective Services NSW November 2002 Serious Offenders Review Council and re-classo: Doesn't want to move jails and wants right to have solicitor present at Serious Offenders Review Counsil (SORC) review (SORC wrote that they had never been asked this) I am prepared to do fulltime in A2 maximum security.

I am the one that has to do the time, not SORC'S forget about the earliest possible release date - I don't give a continental about this systems parole..this system wrongfully convicted me claim that SORC has a bad track record of not reading inmates case files has been vincidated [by what SORC official said in letter to JA NSW November 2002.

Putting your case: It's been almost impossible to get them to look at the truth of my claims. They just want me to go away and stop pestering them but that just isn't going to happen. I love my family dearly and I am going to keep on fighting until I am home with them and the truth is known and acknowledged:.

Queensland Nov 2002 And finally, this letter in Good Weekend 23/11/02 from Cathy Robertson Gymea..The NSW government is doing its best to hide the widespread brutality in the prison system that has destroyed and is continuing to destroy many lives both inside and outside that system. She was talking about the public being refused access to NSW Inspector General's Report.

By Framed Magazine 6 December 2002

Justice Action

SANTA: If they were any tougher they'd rust.


Privacy Information Protection Amendment (Prisoners) Bill
This bill is nothing less than an outrageous stunt by either the administration of the Department of Corrective Services or the Minister for Corrective Services. It seeks to address a problem that simply does not exist.

Royal Commissions a wast of public money?
Upper House Liberal MP John Ryan has claimed in Parliament there is clear evidence that serious levels of corruption exist throughout the administration of the department. Mr Ryan outlined allegations yesterday of a governor blowing the cover of an inmate who was acting as an informant for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

The NSW government has finally appointed somebody (Justice John Nader) to head up its Innocence Panel and has produced leaflets and forms for people convicted of serious crimes (eg murder) to apply for DNA testing if they believe it may help prove their innocence. You can get the info by phoning 1300 881 717 or writing to the panel at GPO Box 45 Sydney NSW 2001.

NSW Department of Corrective Services attack right to privacy
Corrective Services Minister Richard Amery has a problem attacking prisoners right to privacy.It seems to us that a civil society is best served when social justice laws are applied to all people regardless of their circumstances. Once government starts making exceptions which disadvantage certain groups and individuals, such laws are meaningless.

Litigants are drowning: in the High Court
There were so many self represented litigants appearing in the High Court that more than half of its registry staff's time was taken up in dealing with them. The "go it alone" litigants have to take on tasks well above their qualified league causing them stress. This growing problem cannot be left unchecked.

Everyone wants to get out of 'jail' but 'Framed' wants life: Rotten Ron on the ropes On 2 May 2002, Justice Action received a faxed letter from Manager of DCS Operations Support Branch saying that, in his view, articles in Framed edition #42 'lack balance and integrity' and he is therefore 'not prepared to recommend this issue of Framed for placement in to correctional centre libraries.' Prisoners and those concerned about prisoner issues have very few sources of information.

Methadone addicts formed within: 'NSW Prisons'
The New South Wales Opposition has accused the State Government of turning jailed heroin users into Methadone addicts.

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder Mass DNA testing of prisoners has [allegedly] led to the first NSW case of a person being charged with a previously unsolved murder as a result of a controversial gene-matching data bank.

Medical Records: Alex Mitchell's lost world
Perhaps we can get your medical report and spew it around publicly so you can see how it feels. But surely we do not have to go that far. And of course we are law-abiding citizens and I should think it would be enough to remind you of your ethics to report at all.

Prisoners can prove innocence for $20?
Les Kennedy Daily Telegraph reported today that" Prisoners who believe that DNA will prove they were wrongly convicted will have the chance to prove their innocence for a mere $20 administration fee. The move comes 20 months after NSW inmates were asked to provide DNA for comparison with a databank of DNA from unsolved crime scenes for possible convictions.

NSW opposition pledges review of detention laws
A spokesperson for Justice Action Ms Anal Advice said " NSW Prisons are a sex offence if you have been raped, bashed and squatted down to be strip searched. People should be diverted from going there at all material times".

Civil libertarians condemn planned changes to prisoners' privacy rights The New South Wales Government is using a recent case involving [framed] serial killer Ivan Milat to justify its decision to remove the privacy rights of prisoners. But really just another attack on Ivan Milat from Parliament House.

Australian prisons are fast becoming the new asylums of the third millennium. The prison industry is booming, while Australia spends far less on mental health services than similar countries.

The punishment: Is the 'crime'
The punishment is the crime according to retired chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia Justice Alistair Nicholson. "Smacking a child ought to be seen as assault".

Mr. & Mrs. Mandatory Sentencing
Well congratulations to the bride and groom. Could you please be upstanding and raise your glasses for Mr. And Mrs. Mandatory.

Just wipe your arse on Ivan again Minister?
Mr Amery Minister for Corrective services has a problem with finding a toilet roll to wipe his bottom. Justice Action is appalled at the attacks by Amery and others in parliament on Ivan Milat's right to privacy and their attacks on the Privacy Commissioner and his office.

NSW prisons - primary industry bailed up!
In many quiet regional centres around NSW there is a new primary industry shaping up. It has something to do with Bail but not with bales. The minister for Agriculture Richard Amery who also has the prisons portfolio is now committed to farming prisoners.

NSW Parliament Bitter Pills To Swallow?
One delusion pill: So people who investigate their own mistakes make sure there was no mistake or someone else made the mistake. Perhaps you're not biased and you will be honest about it.

The Government is likely to abolish the Inspector General of Corrective Services position The Mulawa inspection report recommendations below strictly illustrate how important he is.

Black Nexus
The Separation of Powers Doctrine is nowcontaminated witharangeofcolours, now leaving us with a black shirt on a once blue bridge that crossed that thin blue line. The 'Amery and Woodham show'.

Prison Mind Games-Do they exist?
Directives are given inside the prison system that are not consistent with the law in NSW. And not in the good interests of the health and well being of the prisoners.

Chronology - A History of Australian Prisons
[Allegedly:] The events that have shaped NSW prisons - from convict days through royal commissions, to the Supermax of today. [I say allegedly because no one should trust Four Corners [Walls], why? Because they spill out the propaganda of the day for the Government, whether it be wrong or right. A government that lies and has no remorse about it.]