Friday, June 3, 2005


Greetings from WA Australia's farther western city!

I write with a pang of disheartening news to the ' Just Us' editors, from behind the wire at Acacia Prison.

I wish to bring to your attention a newspaper article [comment] from the West Australian Newspaper on Monday, February 21, 2005, page 2. I have attached a photocopy of this article for your perusal.

West Australian Newspaper

By IC Monday, February 21, 2005, page 2

The newspaper being produced for prisoners by prisoners has met resistance in WA.

IC [Inside Cover Column] referred to the new publication, Just Us, last year despite the publishers rejecting the column's much better suggestion for a name.

But getting copies of Just Us into WA jails isn't as simple as sending bundles to the prison gate.

"Please be advised that the Department of Justice has received your publication and will not be distributing copies to prisoners in WA prisons,"wrote department spokesman David Harris In an email to the newspaper's editor.

On Friday, Mr Harris said the department was still considering whether to put a copy or two in the prison libraries, but circulating Just Us to prisoners was out of the question.

"If the publishers wish to mail them to individual prisoners that's up to them", he said.

"But we won't be the distribution agents."

I am very concerned that the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Western Australia has chosen to deny prisoners in Western Australia the opportunity of being part of the National and New Zealand prisoners' political voice, and the freedom to express their informed, political opinions.

The DOJ has chosen to not distribute the 'Just Us' newspaper to prisoners in Western Australian prisons.

A direct quote in the article from the department's spokesman, Mr David Harris, says, "But we don't want to be the distribution agents."

I have corresponded to Mr Harris from the DOJ, and I have expressed to him my concern that the DOJ is silencing the voices of Western Australian prisoners through the action the DOJ has chosen to take by not providing prisoners with the continuing distribution of 'Just Us' newspapers.

I highlighted to Mr Harris that I believe that the Constitutional rights of prisoners in Western Australia were being fettered by the action of the DOJ regarding this matter. In particular, I believe that ss 92 and 117 of the Constitution are relevant to my argument.

To this focus, I mirrored the comments of Mr Graeme Orr ('Just Us', December, 2004, p.4) that following a High Court ruling, "...prisoners are entitled to read and share political information", and further, "...we are free to exchange and discuss political information and international affairs."

Mr Harris also comments that, "If the publishers wish to mail them to individual prisoners that's up to them". I would therefore formally ask that the editors of 'Just Us' forward me personally, every edition of 'Just Us'.

I also wish to comment that I am employed in the prisoner library here in Acacia Prison. The only editions of 'Just Us' that have arrived at the library are 'The Australian Prisoners' Election Newspaper' and the December 4, 2004 edition of 'Just Us' that have been published and distributed past December 2004.

Is the Department Of Justice aware of the High Court's decision in Coleman V Power [2004] HCA 39 - 01 September 2004, the decision in Levy V Victoria [1997] 189 CLR 579, and the decision in Watson V Trenerry [1998] 100 AcrimR 408?

Mr Harris, are you personally aware of the decisions in the abovementioned cases?

Does the Department deny that prisoners in Western Australia should be able to read and share political information, and to express their political views and be informed of other prisoners' political views?

The response you provided to the publishers of the 'Just Us' newsletter, in my opinion, was shallow and misinformed.

I note the Department's reasoning for the decision not to distribute the "Just Us' publication, using Policy Directive 21 Provision of Library Services'. However, I believe that it reflects a rigid, arbitrary and inflexible policy by the Department that, in my opinion, is discriminative in nature.

I concede that prisoners in Western Australia are provided with a variety of newspapers, magazines and books through the prison libraries; however, the 'Just Us' publication is unique in that it provides the forum for the political voices and opinions of Western Australian prisoners to be informed Nationally, and in New Zealand.

To my knowledge, I am not aware of any equivalent publication to the 'Just Us' publication, which the Department distributes through the prison libraries to prisoners, that qualifies as meeting the political and informational needs of prisoners.

Is there an equivalent, publication to the 'Just Us' publication that is being provided by the Department Of Justice, can you please inform me of this?

I would respectfully ask that you again peruse my correspondence of 15 March 2005, and respond to my submission regarding the Commonwealth Constitution.

I would also ask that the Department does reconsider its decision to not allow the 'Just Us' publication to be provided to prisoners in Western Australia.

Thank you for our consideration of this matter.

To Justice Action

Pursuant to ss 35 and 36 of the Children's Court of Western Australia Act 1998 (WA) , I am not to be identified through any form of publication or broadcast, as I was a child when I committed my crime.

I do hope that the information I have provided you in this letter is of assistance.

Yours faithfully

By WA Prisoner 3 June 05


Justice Action: Access to our community
NSW: Justice Action went to the NSW Supreme Court before the last Federal election on the constitutional right for prisoners to receive information for their vote. The government avoided the hearing by bringing prisoners' mobile polling booths forward. We pursued it after the election. This is the report.

There was high drama as the only state prisons department in Australia to refuse the The Australian Prisoners' Election Newspaper, was challenged in an emergency hearing before the NSW Supreme Court.

Australian voters have been blocked from receiving 'how to vote' material from the political parties.

Emergency Supreme Court action for prisoners' vote
Renowned constitutional lawyer, George Williams QC, assisted by Ben Zipser of Selborne Chambers and Joanne Moffit of Kingsford Legal Centre will argue for the right of prisoners to receive voting information in the form of The Australian Prisoners' Election Newspaper. The newspaper has been banned by the prisons commissioner, Mr. Ron Woodham. No explanation has been given.

RE: URGENT - Prisoner enrolment to vote!
Justice Action has been talking to the Australian Electoral Commission over the past three weeks about what steps were being taken to ensure that prisoners were given the opportunity to enrol to vote in the Australian Election on October 9.

Prisoner's right to vote attacked again!
On the eve of the election the Howard government has rushed a new law into the Parliament which will further remove the rights of prisoners to vote.

Howard wants prisoner vote ban
Politicians opposed to a federal government plan to ban all prisoners from voting were soft on crime, Special Minister for State Eric Abetz said.

Govt moves to strip prisoners' voting rights
The Australian Council for Civil Liberties has condemned a Federal Government move to stop prisoners voting. Under current laws, prisoners serving less than five years can vote.

Message of Solidarity: Greens
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Prisoners must get right to vote, says court
UK: The government will be forced to lift a ban on prisoners voting dating back to 1870 after the European court of human rights ruled yesterday it breached a lifer's human rights.

Fighting for Florida: Disenfranchised Florida Felons Struggle to Regain Their Rights US: TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Gov. Jeb Bush looked out over a roomful of felons appealing to him for something they had lost, and tried to reassure them.

Felons and the Right to Vote One of the greatest achievements of the civil rights struggle was the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which removed most of the obstacles that kept African Americans away from the ballot box and enabled Americans who did not speak English to vote. But the voting rights movement never reached the last excluded segment of our democracy: our prisoners.


NSW POLICE Commissioner Ken Moroney has issued an ultimatum as well, to the lawless youths holding Sydney's streets to ransom?: Learn some respect or face jail?

Tough line on crime fills jails
The tough law-and-order policies of governments around the nation are behind an explosion in the prison population by almost 80 per cent in the past two decades.

I am a prisoner in NSW and I am currently held in Parklea Prison. I am concerned about what is going on in NSW prisons and this is my story.

Parklea Prison: No calls for six days
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Prison visits in crisis in NSW
The reason I am writing today is to address a difficult situation that my husband and my family are going through. My husband is currently serving a sentence at Lithgow Correctional Centre in NSW.

Prison boom will prove a social bust
Hardened criminals are not filling NSW's prisons - the mentally ill and socially disadvantaged are, writes Eileen Baldry.

The prison system requires assiduous oversight
As NSW Attorney General Bob Debus noted in 1996: "The kinds of complaints which occur in the system may seem trivial to outsiders but in the superheated world of the prison, such issues can produce explosive results."

Crime and Punishment
Mark Findlay argues that the present psychological approach to prison programs is increasing the likelihood of re-offending and the threat to community safety.

Justice Denied In NSW Corrective Services
There used to be a (VJ) or Visiting Justice who would go into the prison and judge any claim or accusation that was made by any prisoner or prison guard. If it were found that a prisoner had offended then punishment was metered out.

Prison guards test positive for drugs
NSW prison visitors banned from using the toilet The visit is only for about one hour and any thing less than that is an insult. If it's proved that a visitor has broken the rules the punishment should apply to them. But collective punishment on all visitors should not be made general when others haven't broken the rules especially if it restricts all visitors from normal human needs like using a toilet.

NSW prison visitors banned from using the toilet
The New South Wales Government has introduced several initiatives to stop contraband getting into prisons they said last Friday. But under the guise of "stricter rules" the department had also introduced banning all visitors including children from using the toilet unless they terminate their visit at any NSW prison after using the toilet.

Watchdogs slaughtered in NSW
On Tuesday the Carr Government reduced transparency and accountability yet again and New South Wales is in danger of becoming entrenched with cronyism and intimidations with the Carr Labor Government that continues to slaughter the watchdogs.