Thursday, May 26, 2005


Management Practices of NSW Department of Corrective Services

NSW: Frank Crook's article (Violence an desperate outlet for caged fury: Daily Telegraph Tuesday May 10, 2005) draws attention to abuse and degrading treatment of inmates in NSW reported twenty and thirty years ago, and a lack of accountability of management practices within the NSW Department of Corrective Services.

I was in custody in NSW six weeks ago, and was a victim of an aggravated assault incited by a prison officer. Despite this happening in front of many witnesses, including correctional services officers and other detainees, and under mandatory video surveillance, a formal complaint to the NSW Commissioner of Corrective Services an his Professional Conduct Management Committee only revealed that as far as they were concerned, this didn't happen.

My reports of many other abuses by their staff merely went unanswered.

The NSW Department of Corrective Services clearly needs an external watchdog, much like the Police Integrity Commission, as the DCS's Professional Conduct Committee will only work in its agency's interest.

The NSW Department of Corrective Services needs managerial reform and a professionalisation of its roles in order to stop this abuse of its powers. A performance management model of management is needed to make these rednecks accountable, or else the agency can look forward to getting sued.

Recently some corrective services officers in NSW have ended up behind bars themselves for their corrupt and criminal conduct. Perhaps we will see more of this if the NSW Department of Corrective Services doesn't have an overhaul.

The average Correctional Services Officer seems to be a violent and abusive redneck who, as a matter of luck, made it to 30 years old without obtaining a criminal record, and so gets at NSW Department of Corrective Services instead.

Set out below are my initial complaints in relation to my mistreatment and the subsequent response I received from those authorities, but the matter is not finished, obviously someone needs to make these people accountable.

If the agency investigates itself and the Ombudsman merely rubber stamps the investigation how is that going to fix a problem that may exist in an agency?

In short it's not fixed it's just like a virus it spreads and affects everyone else down the track. Everyone else making complaints as I did, everyone else ending up with answers that fall along way short of community expectations about whose really offending in our community. If people are going to have respect for the law then the law has to show some respect.

See for yourself how these people take no responsibility and how the oversight body rubber stamps the agencies investigation rather than investigates the matters independently of the said agency complained about. With respect it's a license to abuse the general public.

Letter to Mr Ron Woodham, Commissioner NSW Department of Corrective Services.

Dear Mr Ron Woodham,

I seek from you a response about unlawful conduct by your corrective services officers as requested below:

I was arrested on 27th of March. On the morning of 27th March I was taken to Parramatta Local Court and was admitted in custody. I was rough handled in police custody and in Parramatta court custody by police and Correctional Services Officers (CSOs) respectively. I believe video footage of the cells, and other mandatory surveillance mechanisms you have, will prove this. I was assaulted by another detainee whilst in a shared female cell at Parramatta Court.

I believe video footage will prove this. Please see enclosed police statement and review your video footage, and address my allegation that your CSO1, (who was a short blond man in his late 20's or early 30's, with brown eyes and who) I can identify by sight, incited aggravated violence by making the comments that he did. Please will you obtain the doctors report made by the custodial nurse and his witness that he saw on video footage that I was mistreated by a group of your CSOs.

CSO2, (who was of medium to chubby build, was short, had receding hair, olive skin and brown eyes and was in his late 20's or early 30's and who) I can identify by sight, called me a stupid bitch. He told me I was not going to get bail and that I'd better watch for all those big lesbians when I went to goal. I am a victim of sexual assault by both women and men and this is an appalling thing to say. He said this to taunt me, as he knew that I am a victim of sexual assault, as I had revealed this to CSO's when they were trying to talk me into being strip-searched.

I will point out to you that I had been arrested for an alleged breach of an AVO made in regards to allegations of intimidation, stalking, molestation and harassment. The allegation made that got me arrested was that I approached a person at a party when there is an order for me not to approach or contact that person. Your staff's conduct and the harm from it I endured was much worse than any allegations made on me.

After the court granted me bail I got sent to Mulawa for asking about my rights in regards to signing a Bail Undertaking Form 5A Clause 9. I asked the Administrator, who I can identify by sight, at Parramatta Court Custody if I "had to" sign it and they said yes. I then wanted to know the repercussions by law if I didn't, that is; is it a condition of bail that if I did not sign it they had the right not to release me. They would not tell me and would not let me consult with the lawyer present.

Now I am asking you within this letter to tell me and to refer to the applicable legislation. It is my right to be informed and decide on every document I sign. I do not believe that they had the right to detain me if I did not sign it. They punished me for this by shouting that my bail had been revoked and that I was being taken to gaol and they transported me to Mullawa. CSO2 said, "The Registrar has just revoked your bail in there - we went back in to Court and got it revoked." This is not true, is dishonest and is lawless.

At Mulawa, where I was detained for four hours, the CSO in charge "Kate", who I can identify by sight, told me in the presence of another CSO whom I could identify by sight that I looked like a prostitute in the outfit I was wearing. This was uncalled for. I believe the CSOs at Mulawa abuse the rights of vulnerable detainees for fun and I do not think that this woman's comments have anything to do with her job. I believe the CSO's at Mulawa have the integrity and moral development of child abusers. I am serious and not exaggerating: their unnecessary meanness, callousness and dishonesty and their enjoyment of abusing vulnerable people is of the same ilk.

All these incidents occurred with many CSOs present. I expect all of them will be recorded on video footage. I expect that all verbal incidents will be recorded on audio recording, and if not I would like you to explain to me why not. I can see how such conduct can manifest in a correctional services culture if there is no audio surveillance - that is they can say these things as they no there is no audio surveillance to prove it.

These methods and behaviour are unacceptable for people who work in the criminal justice system. This contravenes the values you are meant to uphold. I believe these methods and behaviours are an entrenched culture in custody and extend to the custodial police as well.

I am available to give descriptions and any other evidence and further detail. Please do not hesitate to contact me.

Teresa Kiernan (Ms)
enc police statement

28 March 2005


Alleged incident a Parramatta Court Escort Security Unit

Dear Ms Teresa Kieman,

I refer to your letter dated 28 March 2005, received at my office on 6 April 2005, in which you make a number of allegations, including that you were assaulted, during your time in custody at Parramatta CESU on 28 March 2005.

I referred your letter to the Professional Conduct Management Committee which cased inquiries to be made into your allegations.

I am informed that inquiries revealed that there is no video recording of any incident involving you during the time you were in custody at Parramatta. Justice Health Nurse Bob Cruickshank (who is not as you believed a medial practitioner), was asked his recollection of events. Mr Cruickshank recalls viewing a closed circuit television monitor when you were with custodial officers and he did not observe any improper actions by them.

Having considered all the evidence, the Professional Conduct Management Committee has decided to take no further action about the letter.

I am satisfied that your allegations have been properly addressed and I will not take any further action about this matter.

Ron Woodham
28 April 2005

Complaint to the Ombudsman

Subject: Aggravated violence/ Department of Corrective Services

I am very concerned about an act of aggravated violence that happened to me in court custody. Please see the enclosed copy police report which pertains to COPS event number E23617906.

I am writing to the NSW Ombudsman because this act of violence was aggravated as it was:

1. incited by a corrective service officer (CSO) at Parramatta Bail Court
2. in front of many other detainees and other CSOs.

Although the Parramatta police are currently investigating this matter I do not assume the police will necessarily investigate it to the full extent that it was a malicious and aggravated assault by a NSW public sector employee in a position of authority who deliberately abused a vulnerable detainee in his care.

This is because I assume the NSW Police have strategic and cultural links with Department of Corrective Services (DCS) as they share functionality. I believe they may share loyalty, camaraderie and purpose.

I imagine that the police will easily find video evidence that the assault happened and will easily be able to charge the woman who assaulted me.

However, the real injustice and outrage is that the CSO incited and set up the assault with language and timing. As there is no audio surveillance in police or court custody, the police and CSOs are cunning and adapt to this and can get away with such crime.

I believe that the woman who assaulted me was a vulnerable person (mentally ill, long history in and out of jail) and was just following orders of the CSO in authority who prompted her to bash me.

I would hate to see Parramatta Police's investigation dwindle away the serious nature of this crime (aggravated assault is a hideous crime) to a mere common assault charge for the woman. I would hate to see the CSO in question merely be investigated by the DCS as a concern about work conduct (although his conduct is of extraordinary concern) when what he did is a actually a malicious and serious crime. Recently in NSW jails people were murdered when they had asked for protection and didn't get it, and it concerns me the lack of surveillance, including audio surveillance, of staff and their own criminal behaviour could lead to this.

I would hope that the Department of Corrective Service's corrective service officer will get charged and the woman let off comparatively lightly for this.

Teresa Kiernan (Ms)
Enc police report
15 April 2005

Complaint to Police

Inner Metropolitan Regional Commander
151 Goulburn Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010

Subject: administrative errors, or 'administrative errors', within the Kings Cross Police/accountability, police discretion

On 27th March 2005, I made a police statement to NSW Police at Kings Cross police station. I reported an aggravated assault in custody at Parramatta Bail Court that had occurred that day. I refer to Cops Event number E23617906 and associated Statement of a Witness made by me.

This aggravated assault was incited by a corrective services officer. This is something I regard as very grave and expect the police to as well.

Today I telephoned Parramatta police to check up on the progress of the investigation. (This was the third time I had done this.) This time I received the news from Officer Baghurst at Parramatta Police Station that this event had never been disseminated to Parramatta Police by Kings Cross Police. He read documentation about E23617906 and said that it declared that Kings Cross crime management had documented that the investigation was meant to go to Parramatta Police.

This evening I visited Kings Cross police and Constable Fitzhenry declared that an administrative error must have happened. They assured me they would disseminate it to Parramata right away.

How could Kings Cross police have made such an error? An aggravated assault is a serious crime, particularly when it is incited by a NSW corrective services officer. How could Kings Cross crime management let such an administrative error happen?

I fear that Kings Cross Police's administrative error greatly diminishes the prospects of this case. As a month has passed, it could be argued by police, or a defence, that my memory may have lapsed in regards to identifying witnesses, remembering sequences of events, etc. The corrective services officers involved have had time to conspire. The police often have the discretion to not investigate historical complaints.

Could Kings Cross crime management in fact have done this on purpose? Accidentally on purpose behaviour is an excellent way for the NSW Police to let the community down whilst remaining unaccountable.

I am concerned that Kings Cross police may have an incentive to let the community down in this circumstance as this is an aggravated assault in custody and the NSW Police have strategic links and loyalties with the Department of Corrective Services.

Previously, when I thought the matter was under investigation, I wrote to the Ombudsman and copied this correspondence to the Crime Manager of Parramatta Police Station. I have enclosed this letter for your perusal. I did this as I am using the Ombudsman to provide surveillance with this investigation.

It is a good thing I did, because so far the investigation hasn't gone very well, wouldn't you agree?

In addition, I am familiar with watchdog investigative bodies such as the Police Integrity Commission, the Commissioner of Police, my Minister for Police and Shadow Minister for Police, and the ICAC. And of course, Regional Commands.

On this occasion I have decided to appeal to you to give me answers why such a disgraceful assault wasn't treated as a priority by Kings Cross Police. I would also like you to investigate if this was a genuine administrative error. If it was, there is a problem with their process which lets the community down. Could you rectify?

Please confirm to me that NSW Police regard as aggravated assault in custody incited by a corrective services officer as a serious community concern.


Teresa Kiernan (Ms)
enc Ombudsman
Saturday 25 April 2005

Response from the Ombudsman

Dear Ms Kiernan,

Your complaint about the Department of Corrective Services

This office is generally recognized as one of last resort. As a matter of policy, we expect that the agency concerned should first be given a chance to review a complaint about its conduct before we will take any action.

I have sent a copy of your complaint to the Commissioner of Corrective Services for assessment and review by the department's Professional Conduct Management Committee. I have asked the Commissioner to advise me of any action the committee decides to take. I have also asked the Commissioner to send me a copy of the report on any investigation arising from your complaint.

When I receive the Committee's advice an/or report, I will assess the department's handling of your complaint and the decision it makes. I may investigate the matter myself if I am not satisfied with the department's handling of your complaint.

I will contact you again when I have heard from the department, which I expect to be in a few months.

Mary McCleary
Investigation Officer, Corrections
For the NSW Ombudsman

By Teresa Kiernan 26 May 2005

REPORT: NSW Department of Corrective Services 2004

The Hon Charlie Lynn: How many complaints were there by inmates or staff assaulting or abusing inmates?

The Hon John Hatzistergos: I do not know. Do you want me to ask every inmate who was in every correctional centre how many people?

The Hon Charlie Lynn: No how many complaints were there. Do you have a complaints system or registration of complaints system?


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