Thursday, September 25, 2003


Anecdotal evidence from staff working in the New South Wales correctional system [prison system] has always suggested a high prevalence of mental illness among the prisoner population.

However, hard evidence has been lacking and generated the impetus for the projects described in this document. Planning effective services for mentally ill prisoners is problematic in the absence of accurate information on the extent and the types of disorders.

Institutionalised populations are routinely excluded from community surveys such as the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, hence the need to survey them separately to provide comparative data and to ensure that key population groups are not forgotten.

Two groups of prisoners are considered in this report: those entering the correctional system [prison system] either for the first time or as repeat offenders, and those who have been sentenced and may have been detained for some time.

What is clear from this report is that the mental health needs of the prisoner population are considerable compared with those of the general community and that a large unmet need exists.

These data provide a solid basis on which to plan appropriately targeted mental health services within the correctional system [prison system] and ensure that appropriate screening and treatment programs exist both at the point of reception and for those who are sentenced.

While this survey provides benchmark data on mental illness in NSW prisons, it leaves a number of questions unanswered. Of particular importance is the role of community mental health services in keeping the mentally ill out of gaol and the contribution of mental illness to offending behaviour.

The dedication and determination of key mental health and research staff ensured the success of the projects reported in this document. They should be considered as pilot studies which will hopefully be repeated with adequate resources to expand their scope and minimise the number who could not be screened. It would also be appropriate to consider a national survey to examine differences between the various states and to promote national collaboration on prison mental health.

Dr Richard Matthews Chief Executive Officer July 2003


Anecdotal evidence from staff working in the New South Wales correctional system has always suggested a high prevalence of mental illness among the prisoner population. This perception, along with the lack of reliable epidemiological data on mental illness prompted Corrections Health [Prison Health] to conduct two studies to examine this issue.

Limited information on mental illness among NSW prisoners was collected as part of the 1996 Inmate [Prisoner] Health Survey. The main reason for undertaking these two projects was to enhance this information and provide more detail in relation to specific psychiatric disorders among the reception and sentenced prisoner populations. The information arising from these surveys can be used to inform service planning and provision.

Study 1 was a sample of male and female inmates [prisoners] screened on reception to the NSW correctional system [NSW Prison System] over a three-month period. Study 2 screened a sample of sentenced inmates [prisoners] from across the state as part of the 2001 Inmate [Prison] Health Survey.

The same instrument used in the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing was adopted to enable comparisons with the wider community. This instrument is essentially a modified version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI), which yields twelve-month and one-month ICD-10 and DSM-IV diagnoses.

Key Findings

The prevalence of mental illness in the NSW correctional [prison] system is substantial and consistent with international findings.

The twelve-month prevalence of any psychiatric disorder (psychosis, anxiety disorder, affective disorder, substance use disorder, personality disorder, or neurasthenia) identified in the NSW inmate [prison] population is substantially higher than in the general community (74% vs. 22%).

Almost half of reception (46%) and over one-third (38%) of sentenced inmates [prisoners] had suffered a mental disorder (psychosis, affective disorder, or anxiety disorder) in the previous twelve months.

Female prisoners have a higher prevalence of psychiatric disorder than male prisoners.

Psychiatric morbidity was higher among reception prisoners compared with sentenced prisoners.

There was comparatively little difference between the one-month and twelve-month prevalence estimates of mental disorder.

Two-thirds of reception prisoners had a twelve-month diagnosis of substance use disorder.

The high rate of mental disorder among inmates [prisoners] cannot be attributed to substance use disorder alone.

40% of reception prisoners had a twelve-month diagnosis of opioid use disorder.

Almost one in ten inmates [prisoners] reported experiencing symptoms of psychosis in the twelve months prior to interview.

An estimated 4% to 7% of reception inmates [prisoners] suffer from a functional psychotic mental illness.

The twelve-month prevalence of psychosis in NSW inmates [prisoners] was thirty times higher than in the Australian community.

14% of male receptions and 21% of female receptions had a one-month diagnosis of depression.

The most common group of mental disorders were anxiety disorders with over one-third of those screened experiencing an anxiety disorder in the previous twelve months.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was the most common anxiety disorder (24%).

One in twenty prisoners had attempted suicide in the twelve months prior to interview.

Females were more likely than males to utilise health services for mental health problems.

Prisoners with a psychiatric diagnosis had higher levels of disability.


Current screening procedures for reception prisoners should be reviewed and, if necessary updated to improve diagnostic accuracy at the point of reception.

There should be a case management approach towards mentally ill inmates [prisoners] with high levels of need. Interventions should be adapted to the psychiatric needs of the prisoner with an evidence-based justification.

There should be co-ordinated pre-release planning involving external agencies in the community.

Current treatment and rehabilitation programs for mentally ill prisoners within the prison system should be reviewed to assess whether or not treatment guidelines are adequate.

Resources should be made available to conduct a more comprehensive survey of prisoners mental health covering disorders such as, schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder.

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation should be integrated into the treatment of mentally ill offenders.

Residential treatment units should be developed within the correctional setting [prison setting] to house mentally ill prisoners who require a therapeutic environment but not hospitalisation. These units should be staffed by skilled mental health workers and appropriately trained custodial officers [guards.]

Social and psychological programs, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, should be made available to inmates [prisoners]. Treatment should be multidisciplinary and commensurate with that provided in the community.

Current transportation practices of inmates [prisoners] with severe mental illness should be reviewed

Establish a forensic mental health directorate to coordinate the treatment, care and rehabilitation of forensic patients in NSW.

The NSW Forensic Mental Health Strategy should be adopted by CHS [PHS] to guide service development and resource allocation.

Court liaison services in NSW should be expanded to include all magistrate courts to facilitate the diversion into mental health care of those with a mental illness who have been charged with minor crimes.

The number of secure forensic psychiatric beds in the community should be increased.

All forensic patients should be transferred out of the criminal justice system and into a community forensic mental health system for care, containment, and rehabilitation.

Psychiatric problems rarely exist in isolation, however in this group the comorbidities are formidable.


Prisoner populations are comprised of some of the most disadvantaged and stigmatised individuals in the community. People from disadvantaged backgrounds, poor educational attainment, histories of unemployment, and indigenous populations are over-represented among prisoner populations in Australia.

International studies have found an over-representation of those with a mental illness in prison.1-5 A recent meta-analysis of sixty-two prison mental health surveys found that inmates [prisoners] were substantially more likely to have a psychotic illness, major depression, and a personality disorder than the general population.6

There are few Australian studies measuring the prevalence of mental illness among prisoners. Those which have been conducted have had comparatively small sample sizes and therefore limited generalisability. All found a high prevalence of mental disorder in correctional communities studies.5;7;8

In 1996, a wide-ranging survey conducted by the NSW Corrections Health Service (CHS) [Prisoner Health Service (PHS)] found that 50% of females and 33% of males self-reported that they had been diagnosed with a mental illness at some time in the past with significant numbers scoring positive for depression according to the Beck Depression Inventory.9

Using the Referral Decision Scale which was developed by Teplin (1989) to identify prisoners with sufficient symptomology to require further psychiatric assessment, 56% of females and 30% of males were recommended for referral for major depression, 20% of females and 12% of males required referral for manic-depression, and 33% of females and 18% of males required referral for schizophrenia.10

While the schizophrenia referral rate is high, it is important to be aware that this instrument was designed to include false-positives rather than false-negatives, thus the prevalence of schizophrenia is likely to be somewhat inflated.

This initial survey shed some light on the unknown demand for mental health services in NSW; however it was subject to the limitations of self-report. A decision was made to undertake a more formal assessment to examine the prevalence of mental illness in the NSW correctional system [NSW Prison System] using a recognised psychiatric diagnostic tool.

Further justification for conducting these assessments is that institutionalised populations such as prisoners are routinely excluded from community surveys such as the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHWB) and the National Health Survey.11;12

The reception assessment, which is conducted on all new admissions into the correctional system ascertains the specific health needs of the inmate [prisoner] in three key health areas: medical status, drugs and alcohol, and mental health including suicide and self-harm [? and prison harm?] Notably, it does not involve any formal tool for diagnosing mental illness. Concerns had been expressed that the current approach to assessment was biased towards identifying psychosis and overlooked conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders.

This report presents the results from two correctional [prison] populations: (1) those admitted to the correctional [prison] system (receptions); and (2) those already serving a custodial sentence (sentenced) as part of the 2001 Inmate [Prisoner] Health Survey.13



The initial intention of the reception assessment project was to screen all consecutive prison receptions over a one-month period. However, in the male group this was not feasible for a number of reasons: lack of interview staff to screen all new receptions especially on days with large numbers of new intakes, inmates [prisoners] transferred to other gaols before they could be interviewed, lack of custodial [guards] staff to assist with inmate [prison] retrieval, lock downs, inmates [prisoners] who were too mentally unwell to be screened, and those released to freedom prior to screening. In contrast, the female sample presented fewer logistical challenges given the reduced numbers.

Bearing in mind that prisoners could be released following bail appearances or transferred to other gaols at short notice, [uncertainty to add to their mental illness?] it was decided to interview prisoners within twenty-four hours of being received into custody.

It was assumed that new receptions place a higher demand on health resources. It was decided to screen all reception inmates [prisoners] rather than just those on remand [possbibly innocent prisoners.] The latter group can be held for considerable time in gaol and were deemed to have more in common with sentenced inmates [prisoners] who were to be screened as part of the 2001 Inmate [Prisoner] Health Survey (Study 2).

The NSW Inmate [Prisoner] Health Survey is a broad-based assessment of the physical and mental health status of the state's prisoner population. It was first conducted in 1996 and was repeated in 2001.

The design is a cross-sectional, random sample of inmates [prisoners], stratified by sex, age and Aboriginality. The sample represents approximately 11% of male and 40% of female prisoners.9 The 1996 survey did not utilise a formal psychiatric screening instrument but relied on self-reported histories of mental illness. It was decided that the 2001 undertaking should incorporate the same approach to mental health assessment as used in Study 1.

Study 1 (Reception Prisoners)

The main reception site used in Study 1 was the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre (MRRC) in western Sydney. Over three-quarters of the state's reception prisoners are processed at the MRRC. A number of remote reception sites (Bathurst, Cessnock and Goulburn) also process reception prisoners and were included in Study 1 (Table 1). Almost all female reception prisoners are processed at Mulawa Correctional Centre which is located on the same complex as the MRRC in Sydney.

Each day, the team leader contacted the duty officer from the Department of Corrective Services and obtained a list of receptions processed on the previous night. At the main reception site, prisoners can arrive between 4pm and midnight with the number of new admissions varying between 0 and 50 on any one day.

The assessors would systematically work through the list of reception prisoners. This was a particularly difficult task at the MRRC as inmates [prisoners] are held in a series of pods across the complex and therefore required the assistance of custodial officers [guards] to escort subjects to the study area for the interview.

Once located, the inmates [prisoners] were given an explanation of the project and invited to participate. Those agreeing to participate were interviewed in a private office by a team member using the screening instruments described above.

The sample of reception prisoners therefore represents a consecutive convenience sample of inmates [prisoners] over a three month period. This approach is not ideal but was the only practicable approach available. A process of randomisation would have been impractical.

Study 2 (Sentenced Prisoners)

In contrast to Study 1, Study 2 screened inmates [prisoners] from all NSW gaols as part of the 2001 Inmate [Prisoner] Health Survey.13 The Metropolitan Reception and Remand Centre (MRRC) was not included in Study 2 as it had been the main centre used in Study 1.

The study sample is designed to be representative of the sentenced prisoner population and to provide prevalence estimates across a wide range of health conditions.9 Details of the methodology are described elsewhere.13

Following the completion of the Inmate [Prisoner] Health Survey, a list of participants was forwarded to the project manager who organised for the mental health assessment to be administered to all available inmates [prisoners] within two to three weeks. Inmates [prisoners] were remunerated $5 for participating in the survey as many had to miss work and would have forfeited pay.


Study 1 used CHS [PHS] mental health nurses to screen inmates [prisoners.] All interviewers received training in the use of the screening instruments from senior CHS [PHS] mental health staff. Interviewers in Study 2 included both CHS [PHS] nurses and forensic psychology master's degree students. Security awareness training was provided for those not currently working within the correctional [prison] system. Furthermore, students were also paired with an experienced team leader who was able to resolve any issues should they arise in the course of the interview.

Screening Instruments

The Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI)

Making diagnostic comparisons with epidemiological studies conducted in the general community, other correctional [prison] communities, both nationally and internationally, was a priority. The recent National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHWB) and the study of psychiatric morbidity in New Zealand prisons had both used the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).12;14

Following discussions with the developers of the NSMHWB, it was decided to utilise this instrument. This is essentially a modified version of the CIDI-A, which yields both DSM-IV and ICD-10 diagnoses.12;15-17 This instrument also incorporates several measures of disability (SF-12, BDQ), personality disorder (the International Personality Disorder Examination IPDE), general psychiatric morbidity (GHQ-12), and psychological distress (K10). Psychosis was diagnosed using a short screener, incorporated into the program. The CIDI is relatively inaccurate in diagnosing particular types of psychotic illness. For the purpose of this report the psychosis screener data is to be regarded as any psychosis.

The psychosis screener is sensitive to the presence of psychotic symptoms due to any cause, but does not differentiate between the different types of psychotic disorders (drug-induced psychosis, brief episodic psychosis, and functional psychotic illness).

Thus it was not possible to determine the prevalence of functional psychotic mental illness (schizophrenia, schizophreniform psychosis, schizoaffective disorder, delusional and affective psychosis), using the psychosis screener alone.

To address this, two clinicians assessed a sub-group of reception inmates who were psychosis screener positive or psychotic according to clinical impression. They applied the Longitudinal history, Expert [interview by a psychiatrist], All available Data (LEAD) protocol. This assessment includes a clinical interview, a review of all documentation and longitudinal history. Those with a definite, possible diagnosis or no diagnosis of a functional psychotic mental illness were identified using this protocol.

The BDQ was scored according to the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) as the individual items used to generate the score were regarded as more relevant to the prisoner population.

The advantages of using the NSMHWB instrument are threefold: (1) it enables direct comparisons to be made with both national and international community samples, and (2) it generates both ICD-10 and DSM-IV diagnoses, and (3) it is computer-based and can be administered by a layperson following training.

The 144-item version of Cloninger's Temperament Character Inventory (TCI) was also administered as a measure of personality.18 This is a dimensional measure which attempts to overcome the limitations of categorical measures of personality disorder.

Categorical measures produce multiple diagnoses with overlapping traits and have limited clinical utility when considering the types of interventions to implement. Dimensional measures of personality are clinically more helpful in that they better describe the nature of the traits that are present in the population and thus better inform treatment needs. The TCI data are not presented in this report.

Data Analysis

Data from the CIDI were imported into SPSS 11 using a program written by staff at the Clinical Research Unit for Affective Disorders, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney.19 This program imports the raw data from the automated interview into SPSS and runs a scoring algorithm, which generates the ICD-10 and DSM-IV diagnoses.

Some of the demographic questions administered to the community sample were inappropriate for a prisoner population and phrased in such a way that they could not be used in the analysis. For example, the community group were interviewed in their homes and questions regarding accommodation pertained to the house in which the assessment took place eg. was it being rented or mortgaged? Similarly, the employment questions asked about job seeking in the recent past it is unlikely that someone facing a prison sentence would be actively seeking work.

For the purposes of this report, demographic data (age, education status, country of birth and source of income) were combined across the reception and sentenced groups. Tables presenting the demographic data use the twelve-month ICD-10 diagnoses. For the purpose of this report, any psychiatric disorder refers to any psychosis, anxiety disorder, affective disorder, substance use disorder, personality disorder or neurasthenia diagnosed by the CIDI.

Summary statistics presented in this report were calculated in SPSS 11.


Between March and June of 2001, 953 inmates [prisoners] (777 males and 176 females) were screened at four of the five male reception centres and the one female reception centre in NSW. Across male reception centres, over 30% of all reception inmates [prisoners] were screened during the period, and 56% of females.

To determine whether the inmates [prisoners] who were screened were broadly representative of prison admissions during the assessment period, comparisons were made between both reception and sentenced inmates [prisoners] across a range of characteristics (Table 2).

In the reception group, the only significant differences between the screened and non-screened groups were among men in terms of a slightly lower proportion of indigenous inmates [prisoners] (11.5% vs. 15.1%), and those had been referred to the mental health team (13.0% vs. 17.3%). There were no significant differences between the screened and non-screened female reception prisoners.

For the sentenced group, the profile of those screened and those not screened was similar in terms of age, Aboriginality, proportion committing a violent offence, and self-reported history of a previous psychiatric illness for both males and females. For males, however, the median sentence length was longer in the screened group. A likely explanation for this is probably the release of those with short sentences before they could be interviewed.The 2001 Inmate [Prisoner] Health Survey is designed to be representative of the NSW prison population.

Based on these data, the sample of reception prisoners is broadly representative of inmates [prisoners] received into the NSW correctional [prison] system. Those referred for mental health assessment biased our results in favour of a lower rate of mental illness.

We evaluated the prevalence of all psychiatric disorders present in both the one-month and one year prior to assessment. Those with a positive diagnosis in the last month can be regarded as unwell at the time of the assessment and reflects the immediate burden of illness on the service. The prevalence of mental illness in the year prior would be more relevant to those sentenced and reflects the burden of illness over time.

Any Psychiatric Disorder

Overall, the majority of male and female reception prisoners were found to have had a psychiatric disorder in the twelve months prior to interview (78% vs. 90%).

The twelve-month prevalence of any psychiatric disorder was higher among females than males in both the reception and sentenced groups (86% vs. 72%) and higher among reception prisoners compared with those currently serving a sentence (80% vs. 64%).


In both males and females, the prevalence of any psychiatric disorder declined with age. The highest prevalence of any psychiatric disorder was in females under 25 years old and was lowest was for men over 40 years of age (Figure 1).

Marital Status

For males, the prevalence of any psychiatric disorder was similar across all categories of marital status. In females, the prevalence of any psychiatric disorder was highest amongst the married/defacto group (Table4).

Country of Birth

The prevalence of any psychiatric disorder was highest in men and women born in Australia.

Source of Income

The prevalence of any psychiatric disorder was lowest in males reporting other sources of income compared with females in which it was highest.

Highest qualification

Overall, females with post-school qualifications had the highest levels of any psychiatric disorder and for males the lowest prevalence was among those with a secondary school qualification.

Excerpts: By Tony Butler and Stephen Allnutt July 2003

Posted by Gregory Kable for Justice Action September 25 2003

Ed: Did they do an assessment on the Supermax HRMU and on Solitary Confinement, Torture System? Nope! They wouldn't be allowed.

Prison rehab programs in 'disarray': Opp

The New South Wales Opposition says rehabilitation in the state's prisons is in disarray. But the states prisons could never rehabilitate in the first place. So how can it be in disarray? The space station as it is known cannot rehabilitate because it's only a dot on the community map, as it were, in relation to how people were raised.

Letter from the mother of a prisoner on remand at the High Risk Management Unit Goulburn Correctional Centre

I am writing to give you permission to make any inquiries on my behalf as I am invalid pensioner who doesn't drive and been only well enough to travel by train once in 15 months to see my son Scott Simpson. I have enclosed a copy of Scott's letter and also a copy of gaol papers form I have to fill out and wait to see if I'm allowed in to see him. He doesn't get any visits. He is in the Supermax and deprived of any privileges not even legal Aid will fund a solicitor to see him in Goulburn.

Intolerable Conditions of Prisoners at Goulburn's HRMU

We wish to with respect, level a serious complaint against the Chief Executive Officer, Corrections Health Services, Dr Richard Matthews.

Goulburn Solitary Confinement: Midnight Special

If you ever go to Goulburn HRMU yeah, you better walk right, you'd better not breathe and sure thing better not fight. The next thing you know the SCU gonna arrest you and Rotten Ron send you down and you can bet your bottom dollar Lord, you'll be chaingang bound.

Escape proof but not so the prisoners mind

Fewer prisoners escape from prison these days because they're "cemented in" by materials that do not break and by legislation that can keep prisoners in jail until they die. All new prisons are virtually unbreakable. Built out of products like perspex, concrete and steel that have no flexibility and ensure that the prisoners of today take the full brunt of all Department of Corrective Services institutional failures.


The High Risk Management Unit at Goulburn [Solitary Confinement Supermax, Torture, Gulag,] alleged to have been the first Australian jail of the 21st century and the most secure in the Southern Hemisphere (it was claimed in an article SMH 14 May 2001).


The High Risk Management Unit at Goulburn [Solitary Confinement Supermax, Torture, Gulag,] alleged to have been the first Australian jail of the 21st century and the most secure in the Southern Hemisphere (it was claimed in an article SMH 14 May 2001).

Solitary Confinement: Mental illness in prisons

Because of rules violations, symptoms of mental illness, and vulnerability for harm from other prisoners, placement in the punishing environment of segregation [solitary confinement] can occur. Self-harm and suicidality also lead to segregation and isolation.


Yatala Labour Prison Adelaide Going Backwoods: response
Thank you and your team for your support. I have been trying to write you back. However the person has now stopped me from using the computers and education centre and the typewriter has been broken.

On the treatment of prisoners at the NSW HRMU
Prisoners sister's letter from her brother: Following our phone conversation some weeks ago I would like to set out a few points on the treatment of prisoners in the High Risk Management Unit at Goulburn (Super Max) (Guantanamo Bay).

Review of Justice Ministers claims about conditions at HRMU
Minister for Justice John Hatzistergos stated on 15 July 2003 concerning the prisoners at the High Risk Management Unit at Goulbourn.[Prisoners held in solitary confinement and tortured endlessly in a Supermax Prison at Goulburn.]

Lithgow Prison: This is no Irish joke!
Allow me to introduce myself to you my name is John Smith I am writing to you for your help in regards to Corrective Services Jail at Lithgow, I am a prisoner at this centre and I am serving a long sentence. I originally came from Ireland a number of years ago.

The Ku Klux Klan and Patrick Horan
The State government has logged objections to Patrick Horan a NSW prisoner's planned release, convicted of the manslaughter of a police officer and seriously wounding another. Justice Minister John Hatzistergos says the NSW Parole Board intends to grant parole to Patrick Francis Horan, who committed the crimes near Bathurst in NSW's central west in 1986.

Lithgow prisoners speak out about rations
Some new issues have arisen today. A senior officer called me to the office, as they usually do to inform me of all new local orders etc concerning prisoners. The deputy governor has cut back funds for stores. Officers have been told they will issue only the following: One Toilet roll per week per prisoner One Toothbrush per month One plastic disposable spoon, fork, knife per day prisoner exchange only.

The High Risk Management Unit at Goulburn [Solitary Confinement Supermax, Torture, Gulag,] alleged to have been the first Australian jail of the 21st century and the most secure in the Southern Hemisphere (it was claimed in an article SMH 14 May 2001).

The Daily Telegraph licensed to set up prisoners?
A man who smuggled a mobile phone into a Sydney jail and took pictures of stockbroker Rene Rivkin has been sentenced to 400 hours of community service.

International Prisoners Justice Day 2003
Justice Action, Prisoners Action Group and others celebrated this year's IPJD by visiting Silverwater Jail Complex and talking to the visitors as they went in and came out. We handed out copies of the media release and Framed to the visitors (who took them inside!) and showed our support for prisoners and their families, talking through the loud hailer so prisoners inside would be aware of our presence.

Weak NSW Government suspends Innocence Panel
The DNA evidence panel is under investigation and the New South Wales Innocence Panel's operations have been suspended and a review of how it works ordered.

Is Prison Obsolete?
Eileen is a senior lecturer in the School of Social Work UNSW where she teaches and researches in the areas of social policy and social development. She has been the chief researcher, and has also collaborated on projects and publications regarding prisons, the criminal justice system and women, public and social housing and indigenous matters. She has recently completed major research on ex-prisoners, accommodation and social reintegration. Eileen has been active in using research to argue for policy change in the NSW criminal justice field for some years.

Escape proof but not so the prisoners mind
Fewer prisoners escape from prison these days because they're "cemented in" by materials that do not break and by legislation that can keep prisoners in jail until they die. All new prisons are virtually unbreakable. Built out of products like perspex, concrete and steel that have no flexibility and ensure that the prisoners of today take the full brunt of all Department of Corrective Services institutional failures.

Researching post-release options for Indigenous women exiting Australian prisons :HREOC The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is researching post-release options for Indigenous women exiting Australian prisons. We are particularly interested in examining the accommodation options available to women upon their release from prison.

Parents on the inside leave children on the edge
They have been dubbed the forgotten generation - the innocent casualties of their parents' crimes. New research shows that in 2001 14,500 NSW children had a parent in jail. And 60,000 NSW children under 16 have experienced the incarceration of a parent, more than half enduring the trauma of separation before they turn five.

New video to create empathy in violent criminals?
Violent offenders in New South Wales prisons will be the audience for a new video put together by the victims of crime group, Enough is Enough, but nothing from the ex-prisoners, support groups, like Justice Action, because they don't rate?

Junee Prison, NSW Parliament and Noble Cause Corruption
I have not been charged with any offence. The first thing I knew was when they (the Intel officer) at Junee had me called to reception. I was then told that I was going to segregation for good order and discipline.

Beyond Bars: Sentencing reform
A spokesperson Dr Tim Anderson said, " The law reform commission was too gutless on this a few years back but re-introducing remissions (perhaps under another name) would be a valuable move best wishes".

The Australian Institute of Criminology has released the National Deaths in Custody Program annual report for 2002 Between January and December 2002, there was a total of 69 deaths in custody in Australia. There were 50 deaths in prison custody and 19 deaths in police custody and custody-related police operations.

Yatala Labour Prison Adelaide Going Backwoods
I'm a prisoner in south Australia (Adelaide), Yatala Labour Prison, I'm 39 years old with only two and a half years spent in the community since the age of 13. I came into the adult prison system in 1985; I was released in 1998 only to re-offend. I'm now doing 30 years with a 16-year non-parole period, as it's truth in sentencing in our state and there is no remission. My release date is 2016.

Inspector General of Corrective Services Debate
Below is our response to Justice Minister Hatzistergos' comments in a debate in Parliament on July 2, 2003 regarding the impending decision about the future of the Inspector General of Corrective Services in NSW.

Hatzistergos: The Daily Telegraph's prison mates
Who convinced a prisoner on periodic detention to take a mobile phone into prison to take a photo of Rene Rivkin? The prisoner said no and contacted the Daily Terror to say no.

Premier Bob Carr, Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge, Senator Aden Ridgeway, and other community representatives have been invited to receive the message from the men of "The Hole.

Goulburn Solitary Confinement: Midnight Special
If you ever go to Goulburn HRMU yeah, you better walk right, you'd better not breathe and sure thing better not fight. The next thing you know the SCU gonna arrest you and Rotten Ron send you down and you can bet your bottom dollar Lord, you'll be chaingang bound.

Carr defends prison handling of political PRISONER
Bob Carr should be ashamed of himself after giving the prisons Commissioner Rotten Ron Woodham another filthy job setting up Phuong Ngo as one of the most dangerous prisoners in the State.

DCS: Protection gangs? - Ngo exploited in prison
New South Wales prison officials claim to have disbanded a gang in the Lithgow jail set up to protect convicted murderer, Phuong Ngo.

How the QLD Dangerous Prisoners Act failed the first test
What is dangerous? Everyone is dangerous naturally it really depends on how far a person is pushed. Standing on a mountaintop with someone walking you backwoods towards the edge would promote fight or flight and if there is nowhere to fly but over the edge you may choose to respond. When a person breaks the law they lack social skills or are repressed into breaking the law.

Prison rehab programs in 'disarray': Opp
The New South Wales Opposition says rehabilitation in the state's prisons is in disarray. But the states prisons could never rehabilitate in the first place. So how can it be in disarray? The space station as it is known cannot rehabilitate because it's only a dot on the community map, as it were, in relation to how people were raised.

A proper Sentencing Council, such as the one proposed by the Carr Government, would not have sent Rene Rivkin to jail, locked up as a slave in a box.

Justice Action calls for the retention of the office of Inspector General and a restructure of the legislation making it truly independent.

Rene Rivkin: Beam me down Scottie! - We gotta get out of this space At best a prison is only a Space Station. Nothing more nothing less and it doesn't matter how much money or resources are spent on prisons they're only a candle light for human growth and survival, opposed to the sunshine and the benefit and resources of the whole community.

Old bureaucrats to say whether they felt there should be an effective inspector of bureaucrats?
JA is urgently working on a response to the 31 page review of the position of the Inspector General of Corrective Services position released by the Minister on10/6/03.

High Risk Management Unit (HRMU) INSPECTION
This letter is to request permission for an independent inspection team to examine the 75-cell HRMU at Goulburn Jail. The proposed inspection team consists of specialist doctors, jurists, members of the Corrections Health Service Consumer Council and prisoners representatives.

MJA - BBCD Outbreaks in NSW prisons
Seems some of our friends in & around Corrections Health Service (CHS) were able to take advantage of a couple of recognised cases of needle sharing by HIV positive prisoners to gather data for a study.

As an ex-Grafton intractable (1971-1975) and the only living ex-prisoner to have served the longest time inside Katingal (1975-1978) I feel qualified to offer the following personal observations:

Intolerable Conditions of Prisoners at Goulburn's HRMU
We wish to with respect, level a serious complaint against the Chief Executive Officer, Corrections Health Services, Dr Richard Matthews.

SIX YEARS IN HELL - The Sorry Saga of Ivan Robert Milat
This month, May 2003, Ivan Milat will have spent six years in segregation/isolation without any charges, enquiry, or breach of prison rules levelled against him.

NSW death in custody, false imprisonment, and assault
Knight's case sparked headlines after it emerged that his suicide in John Moroney Correctional Centre [prison] in Sydney on January 22 occurred 18 days after his official release date.

Victorian (Australia) Juvenile Deaths in Custody & Post-Release has just been published on the British Journal of Medicine Quotes (BJM): "The risk of death was nine times higher in male offenders than in the reference Victorian male population. Although the estimate is unstable because of the small number of deaths, female offenders seemed to be about 40 times more likely to die than the reference Victorian female population."

The Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986 Qld
The Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986 (Qld), requires that any person who has committed an offence which is less than 10 years old or which resulted in a prison sentence of more than 30 months, must disclose that offence if requested eg. for employment purposes. If a criminal record is disclosed in a job application, it is unlikely that person will be given the job.

NSW Serious Offenders Review Council
In response to a letter we have received from Mr K C who has said that he is serving 24 years and 10 months commencing on 29/8/1991 with his earliest release date being 28/6/2016 with 4 years parole and full time 28/6/2020. He said that he contacted the Serious Offenders Review Council in writing but received no response.

Justice Action's complaints about ACM to the NSW Ombudsman fell on deaf ears The Federal Government is reviewing allegations that the company it pays to run Australia's detention centres the same company who runs Junee Jail in NSW has fraudulently reduced staffing levels in at least one centre to increase its profits.

Token Parole Board reforms silent on Govt bungle
The Carr governments token reforms of the Parole Board are minimalist and still fail to explain the election cover-up of mismanagement, which contributed to an inmate's [a prisoners] death.

The Justice Minister has released government reforms to the Parole Board following the death of an aboriginal inmate, which was due to a Parole Board error.

Sentencing innovation breaks vicious circle of jail terms
"Three months' jail for one punch in a pub fight is too much," said the victim. The victim's comment counted because he and the offender, Robert Bolt, a Nowra Aborigine, were making history in the first case of circle sentencing, a new way of deciding punishment for indigenous offenders.

Letter from the mother of a prisoner on remand at the High Risk Management Unit Goulburn Correctional Centre I am writing to give you permission to make any inquiries on my behalf as I am invalid pensioner who doesn't drive and been only well enough to travel by train once in 15 months to see my son Scott Simpson. I have enclosed a copy of Scott's letter and also a copy of gaol papers form I have to fill out and wait to see if I'm allowed in to see him. He doesn't get any visits. He is in the Supermax and deprived of any privileges not even legal Aid will fund a solicitor to see him in Goulburn.

WA Jail trade in 'sex for favours'
THE West Australian Government has ordered an inquiry into claims guards at Perth's main women's prison are trading favours for sex, and encouraging inmates to form lesbian relationships.

NSW prisons over-crowded. Gov't orders investigation into death in custody
In January this year, a 23-year-old Aboriginal prisoner was found hanging in his cell in a Sydney jail 18 days after he was due to be released.

Yes Minister: 'Justice Action meets John Hatzistergos Justice Mininster' We have taken a few days to pass this on, as we wanted clarification of the minister's statement about the purposes of imprisonment before publishing it.

Beyond Bars Alliance colleagues
There are certainly problems with the IG's terms of reference and the position is not nearly as strong as it should or could be but it should not be lost it should be strengthened (along the lines of the UK IG of Prisons) to provide an independent voice to the Parliament regarding activities and processes that otherwise happen behind prison walls.

Submissions for Review of Inspector General
There is a very serious attack happening on the office of the NSW Inspector General of Corrective Services. A secret and flawed review is taking place at this moment, and we call upon all individuals and organisations interested in the area to make their views known.

Two thirds of a billion dollars and DCS can't work out what authority they have? "Two thirds of a billion dollars of taxpayers money and the Department of Corrective Services can't work out what authority they have to hold the people who are in jail."

Australia: Private Prisons, Junee NSW
When I got to Junee I was given nothing except bed linen. That's it! No clothing. I had to put my name down for clothing, which they said I could get on Saturday. When I went down to get my clothing on Saturday I was told they had nothing but I was told that I could buy what I wanted on their monthly buy-up. In the mean time I got rashes between my legs from the dirty clothes I had on.

Justice Action meets with new Minister for Justice
John Hatzistergos Minister for Justice is meeting with Brett Collins and Justice Action today at 11:30 a.m.

The prisoners of Lithgow Correctional Centre have requested that the Lithgow Inmate Development Committee write to you on their behalf and ask that the phone systems heavy burden upon the prisoners at this institution and their families be reviewed. I will outline the problems.

Health problems denied in prison
Lithgow Correctional Centre (IDC) Inmate Development Committee "Currently there are 72 inmates on the doctors waiting list with only one doctor coming fortnightly and usually on a weekend".

NSW Prisons Inmate Development Committee speaks out
I am writing on behalf of the IDC Inmate Development Committee in area 3, MSPC at Long Bay. Area 3 is where, the Department is congregating minimum-security offenders within maximum-security walls whilst awaiting mandatory programs at Cubit (Sex Offenders Program).

THE GULAG TREATMENT - The Trauma Of Court Appearances When Incarcerated Prisoner transport vehicle 10th January 2003 It's about 4.40am, very darkoutside and although I'm expecting it, it is still intrusive when my dreams are interrupted by the sound of my name, it is the officer checking that I'm awake ready to face the long day ahead.

Sir David Longland Correctional Centre
If it were possible to characterize the term B Block attitude in a modern dictionary, it would read something like "demeanor of inhabitance" or "state of mind or behaviour of occupants".

SIR DAVID LONGLAND CORRECTIONAL CENTRE QLD - CELLS IN B BLOCK The cells in B Block are like no other in any Queensland prison. After Mr. Cooper was severally embarrassed by the Abbott and Co escape on 4th November 1997, he visited B Block and the surrounding grounds. It was that visit, by Cooper, that set in motion a plan (up the ante) to make sure security in B Block would never embarrass him again. It was like closing the gate after the horse has bolted.

Inspector General Ignored On Womens Prison
Four months after a report from the Inspector General on Mulawa Correctional Centre, key recommendations involving safety and welfare of prisoners and staff have been ignored. Kathryn Armstrong (former chair of Inmate Development Committee) and Annabel Walsh, released from Mulawa Womens Prison in February, have produced an independent report confirming the findings of the Inspector General.

Distribution of: 'How to Votes in prisons'?
Justice Action have received information from Andrew Burke of the NSW Greens that they have enquired with the Department of Corrective Services as to the procedure for distributing their How To Votes in prisons in the period before the election.

Getting Justice Wrong DPP make full admissions
Back in May 2001 Nicholas Cowdery QC made an error at law by giving a speech called Getting Justice Wrong at the University of New England, Armidale Thursday, 31 May 2001. Sir Frank Kitto, Lecture now published at the DPP website. At page six, paragraph 3 under the heading:

Inspector-General: The Greens believe that the role of the Inspector-General is crucial to the proper functioning of the prison system. It has never been more important to have a powerful watchdog role than today. Section 3.11 of our Criminal Justice Policy commits the Greens to "strengthening the role of the Inspector-General of Prisons."

Long Bay Prison: The latest inside story
Private food purchases called Buy-Ups that normally take care of the prisoners additional food nutrition in Jail has been changed.

Doing time even harder: 146 prisoners far from home
The United States, however, has detained without trial about 650 men from 43 countries. They include Australians David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, who are held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base as part of the sweep against global terrorism [scapegoats for the Coalition of the Killing's, pre-emptive strikes, occupation and genocide for resources in the Middle East.]

Human Rights 'Framed'
Here is a quick report on our Human Rights Commission approach on Framed (the quarterly magazine of Justice Action) being banned from all NSW prisons. After 42 issues went in.

Prison Privatisation: Death camps looming in NSW
I asked for the identification of the person I was speaking to and was told that I was not entitled to that information. I needed to verify the call and asked for a name or number to register my call because I was asked to get those details by my coordinator.The person refused to identify themselves either by name or number. I asked to be transferred to a senior person and was refused. The person I spoke to then hung up the phone.

NSW education professor warns further commitment needed
The author of a report on the New South Wales education system has urged the major political parties to do more for education in the election campaign.

Corrections Victoria and criminal acts: SCS-4\320 UPDATE
You have stated "Section 30 of the Corrections Act 1986 and the Information Privacy Act 2000, restricts the release of confidential information regarding prisoners, I therefore am unable to provide any information regarding this matter."

Death camps looming in Victoria
A letter was received on 15 January 03 from SCS-4\320 a remand prisoner in Victoria's Barwon Prison I later found out that the prisoner was in the Acacia High Security Unit.

Jail search finds knives, syringes
Mr Brett Collins a spokesperson for Justice Action said, "It shows there is a lot of desperation in the prison system at the moment and has been for some time."

Take crime talk beyond the bars:'lobby group'
A coalition of academics, crime experts, welfare and church groups is preparing to launch an intensive pre-election campaign aimed at refocusing the attention of NSW politicians from harsh sentencing reforms to crime prevention strategies.

Six weeks, six months, six years: inmates have little chance of making fresh start More than 15,500 people are released from NSW prisons each year, twice the number of 20 years ago. But new research shows many ex-prisoners find it impossible to reintegrate into society and, months after release, are worse off than before they went to jail.

NSW A-G moves to stop criminals and ex-criminals selling stories
From next month criminals or ex-criminals who try to profit (earn a living for paid work, like writing a book etc..) from their crimes in New South Wales will have the proceeds confiscated.

NSW Govt criticised over criminal justice record
Key criminal justice groups have described the New South Wales Government's record on justice issues as a "disappointing performance".

The decision of the Carr government to appoint John Jacob Klok as the new Assistant Commissioner for Corrective Services in charge of security represents a statement of contempt to all those concerned about law and justice in NSW.

How NSW Dept of Corrective Services spent $800,000 dollars to rehabilitate a Sydney man sentenced to life for second murder! A spokesperson for Justice Action Mr Pro Grams said, "Well it's your money, how would you like it spent? And what do you think about rehabilitation on behalf of the Department of Corruptive Services?

Prisoners Representatives Excommunicated
Ron Woodham, Commissioner Corrective Services stated "[this Department] does not recognise Justice Action as an advocate on correctional centre issues." He has ordered a ban on all Justice Action material inside the NSW prison system. This resulted from a request for the approval of the latest edition of Framed (the Magazine of Justice Action) to be distributed throughout NSW prisons as has occurred for the past ten years.

Dept of Corrective Services: Rotten Ron Woodham on the ropes
This is The Freeedom Of Speech and The Press in a goldfish-bowl! Herr Goebells has spoken. Zieg Heil! (Which means, actually: "aim-for health!" incidentally)Apologies for not making meetings ... my first experiences with Woodham (then a -screw-gestapo-minor-with-a-friendly-dog - AND YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS WHEN EVEN HIS DOG DOESN`T LIKE HIM?)

At the Minister's Pleasure The case of Michael Kelly
Michael is caught up in a particularly cruel version of the game of Cat and Mouse. Because he is classified as a forensic patient under the Mental Heath Act of NSW, the Minister for Health is his master, not the Minister for Corrective Services. And the Minister for health will not let him go.

Name removed by request served time in prison decades ago. Shes still being punished today. According to commonwealth and state legislation, ex-prisoners applying for jobs must declare any conviction that fits into the following categories: less than 10 years old, more than 10 years old but served more than 30 months in prison.

The Australian Law Reform Commission had recommended that the Innocence Panel be independent and have the power to investigate alleged miscarriages of justice.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.]

Justice Action
Justice Action is a community based organisation of criminal justice activists. We are prisoners, academics, victims of crime, ex-prisoners, lawyers and general community members. We believe that meaningful change depends upon free exchange of information and community responsibility.

Beyond Bars Alliance colleagues
I imagine all of you received Justice Action's email yesterday regarding the position of Inspector General of Corrective Services.

Community Restorative Centre
NSW spends more than half a billion tax dollars a year on prisons. It costs $60,000 to keep someone in maximum security for a year: more than double the minimum wage. CRC looks for and implements better solutions to the high social and economic costs of crime.

Shine For Kids
What happens for a young person who has a parent in prison?
There are a lot of consequences for children or young people who have a parent in prison. During Groupwork the kids themselves have identified as being:

Children of Prisoners' Support Group
Children of Prisoner's welcomes Ann Symonds as our first Patron at this years AGM and screening of "The Space in Between" video , and will have a visual display to demonstrate the invisible population of children effected by parental incarceration.