Friday, December 17, 2004

Goulburn Jail breaches UN standards

Goulburn Prison

NSW: Greens MP Lee Rhiannon has called on Justice Minister John Hatzistergos to bring Goulburn Jail's Maximum Security Wing into line with United Nations standards, after a prison inmate's covert survey of his fellow inmates revealed problems with rehabilitation programs and basic amenities.

Goulburn Jail inmate Christopher Binse secretly issued a questionnaire to more than 140 of his fellow inmates in C-Wing, and the results paint a disturbing picture," said Ms Rhiannon.

The survey showed that although most inmates were very keen to undertake rehabilitation and education programs, they were overwhelmingly not getting the services they needed.

Prisoners are punished by long-term deprivation of liberty. The role of the prison is not to inflict boot-camp hardship on prisoners, but to ensure they don't re-offend when released.

Rehabilitation is crucial to breaking the cycle of criminality. Yet the prisoners' own testimony reveals that not enough is being done to ensure they can integrate back into society.

The survey also found that the clothes provided to prisoners were inadequate in the harsh Goulburn winter, causing many inmates to fall ill.

This is not a luxury, it's a question of basic standards. If minimum standards are not met, the jail runs the risk of simply hardening criminals, rather than solving any behavioural and social problems they have which may cause recidivism.

The inadequate rehabilitation programs and clothing breach the UN standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners. So too does the ethnic segregation practised at the jail.

I congratulate Mr Binse on his survey, and on his ability to overcome conditions at Goulburn and seek to break his own cycle of criminality. I hope his efforts to quantify conditions at Goulburn Jail are heeded by the Justice Minister," Ms Rhiannon said.

Also available: Details on the survey, the UN rules, a copy of Lee's speech to Parliament.

Hans van Leeuwen
Media Adviser, Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon
Tel: (61 2) 9230 3551
Fax: (61 2) 9230 3550
Mob: 0425 310 562

By The Greens posted 17 December 04

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