Thursday, August 4, 2005

WA Prisons: 'Pre Release Program' suspended?

"I have various times throughout my continuing, indefinite incarceration, felt as though I were a 'lone voice' in the middle of a screaming AFL Grand Final crowd."

A prisoner writes from Acacia Prison Wooraloo WA to Justice ACTION

Thank you for your most welcomed correspondence and the attachments of 06 July 2005, which I received this afternoon. I must also thank you for your previous correspondence of 31 May 2005.

The Prison Resource Kit contains a variety of information I am sure will be well read, thank you. I was quietly amused and agreeing with the poster illustrating imprisonment with the title,' Obedience To The Law is Freedom'. I think it is very apt, in my opinion, what constitutes 'The Law' is open to debate when it comes to 'Freedom'.

I am delighted to see that my previous letters have been accepted as material of interest and relevance by your organisation, and that this material has been put out there for inquisitive and interested eyes to see.

I was very much heartened by your kind comments and uplifting enthusiasm for issues that I am enthusiastic about also. I have various times throughout my continuing, indefinite incarceration, felt as though I were a 'lone voice' in the middle of a screaming AFL Grand Final crowd when it comes to issues of fairness and accountability in the justice system. I am pleased to understand that I am not alone in this regard.

I find it ironic and mildly sad in a way that I am under the control and care of a 'Department' that has the word 'Justice' in its title. Have I missed something? For the most part I understand that a multi faceted system beats to its own drum, and that 'Justice' is an objective most of the time, but I do feel sometimes that the drum isn't sounding out the right type of music.

Issues such as the decision by the Department Of Justice in Western Australia not to distribute the 'Just Us' periodic newspaper astound and concern me. To my knowledge, there is no equivalent publication that is already provided to prisoners in Western Australia.

On that note, at present I have received no further responses to my enquiries with the Department Of Justice relating to this matter, but I will keep you informed as I do.

I am also discussing the periodical Newsletter with people and suggesting that if they wish to be informed and to have their political voice heard, they may choose to write to Justice ACTION and have their details added to the Justice ACTION mailing list.

[Name suppressed for legal reasons because this prisoner was sent to prison at age 16]

I have recently commenced civil proceedings in the Supreme Court of Western Australia, in Perth. My case may be cited as [Prisoner] V Director General, Department Of Justice and Anor. XXX. XXX of 2005.

I have lodged a Writ of Habeas Corpus against the First Respondent, Director General, Department of Justice, and a Writ of Certiorari against the Second Respondent, the former Minister for Justice.

My first court appearance regarding these matters was on Thursday, 02 June 2005. This was an 'ex parte' hearing in Chambers before His honour Judge Blaxell. The matter has been adjourned to Wednesday, 15 June 2005. I hope to present oral submissions and argument on this day.

I have prepared the legal documents myself, and I am representing myself in these proceedings. It has been suggested to me that due to the highly political nature of my case in the past, and the foreseeable future, finding legal representation in Perth is very difficult. But I take this difficulty in my stride, and I am only too aware that I am the only person who knows my case and my contentions clearly.

I have enclosed three documents for your perusal and information, which have been filed with the Court already. These documents are:

* Notice Of Originating Motion (Form 64) [6 Pages]
* Outline Of Submissions For A Writ Of Habeas Corpus And A Writ Of Certiorari And Order Nisi [17 pages]
* Applicant's Amended List Of Authorities For Hearing On Wednesday 15 June 2005 [8 pages]

I am confident that you with be able to understand the directions I will be leading to in argument. The ad hominem contention is of particular interest. As this is a civil action, the case citing, which includes my surname, has been printed in The West Australian newspaper's Court listing. As I noted previously, the case has been adjourned to Wednesday, 15 June 2005, and on this date I will ask the Court for a suppression order relating to my name (my identity), and future Court Listings. I will be seeking to invoke ss 35 and 36 of the Children's Court Of Western Australia Act 1988, for the order.

I am not sure if your organisation is aware of this, but there is presently an inquiry investigating the activities of the Department Of Justice, in connection with the placement and management of prisoners in Western Australian Prisons, and in the community.

There have been a number of incidents of late involving the Department Of Justice, and few high profile inmates, which have received a barrage of media and public interest. The Liberal Party in Opposition has also taken the opportunity to berate the Labor Government concerning these incidents.

As a result of these incidents 14 prisoners, including life sentenced prisoners and Governor's pleasure sentenced prisoners, having done nothing to warrant punishment, were removed from minimum-security prison farms to medium and maximum security facilities. These 14 prisoners had been participating in a program of graduated release into the community. This program is colloquially known as the 'Pre Release Program'.

In response to these incidents, on 05 April 2005, Western Australia's Premier, Dr Geoff Gallop, signed a document that outlines the terms of reference of an 'independent' inquiry. The named inquiry is defined as: "INQUIRY INTO THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WITH REGARD TO THE MANAGEMENT OF OFFENDERS IN CUSTODY AND IN THE COMMUNITY"

The Honourable Dennis Mahoney, a former New South Wales Supreme Court Judge, has been named as the Inquirer for this Inquiry.

All of this has occurred after the Labor Government was returned to office in February of this year.

The new Minister for Justice, Honourable John D'Orazio, who has relieved Honourable Michelle Roberts, former Minister for Justice, has been appointed the new 'overseer' of the 'troublesome' Justice Portfolio. Mr D'Orazio, a multiple victim of crime himself, in response to the incidents involving the Department Of Justice, has stated in various media reports words to the effect that his priorities are:

(a) Community safety
(b) Staff safety within the justice system
(c) And then we will look at the rehabilitation of prisoners

Life sentenced prisoners and Governor's pleasure sentenced prisoners, who were participating in approved Pre Release Programs, and prisoners who hoped to be commencing Pre Release Programs, have been told that there will be no Pre Release Programs until further notice (indefinite suspension), pending the outcome of the 'independent inquiry.

It has been suggested that this action, or inaction of behalf of the Department Of Justice, and the Labor Government, is a form of group punishment perpetrated towards life sentenced prisoners and Governor's pleasure sentence prisoners, in my opinion this is correct.

The concept of group punishment is from days of old. What is going on in Western Australia? On that note, I shall sign off for now, and turn to my extensive authorities list for my up and coming legal action. I hope that my efforts continue to be of assistance to Justice ACTION and I look forward to hearing from you again.

Kind Regards

By Just Us 4 August 05

Ed. Likewise my friend how you have grown in your knowledge and your wisdom from a 16-year-old boy into a fine scholar, from juvenile detention into adult prison, with a lot of knowledge to share with the community. God willing, people who make their first mistake in my opinion always deserve a second chance. A second chance to prove to the community and themselves that they can make it, so the community in turn will not diminish the standards of a human being so easily, after they have made their first mistake. Why? Because a human being is not infallible in the land of trial and error and people only learn by making a mistake. Some people make big mistakes and some people make small mistakes. Nevertheless it is a mistake when it's recognised but once that has occurred and a person has learned and has some insight into their offending behaviour that mistake is unlikely to occur ever again if 'treated properly' the first time.

But making your first mistake as a 'child' in our Wonderful Universe and then being incarcerated for it by the State 'indefinitely' is wrong and I think your case deserves special attention.

Surely there is an obligation by the Australian Constitution to grant you a second chance on the basis that you were a child when you committed your first offence and obviously did not have time to grow up before you tripped over and stubbed your toe on that rock that has been indefinitely tied around your neck ever since. Keep up the good work and let us know how you get on!

Every Best Wish

Harmful, Undeserved Punishment

US: Nearly five million American citizens are denied the right to vote - one of every 50 citizens. That includes 13 percent of all African-American men nationwide, up to almost twice that percentage in particular states and the majority of adults - black and white -- in some inner city neighborhoods.


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

Inquiry into West Australia's prison system
Prison Reform Group WA (PRGWA) notes the broad terms of reference as well as the robust independence of the inquiry. In establishing an inquiry that is motivated to provide a clear and fresh view of a beleaguered system it is hoped that an unbiased, clinical analysis free of the dreadful political mudslinging that has mired this area in the past may now be possible.

Overhaul Department of Justice: Reform Group
WA: The Prison Reform Group of WA is calling for a complete overhaul of the Department of Justice following recent events which have compromised its integrity, placing prison staff, prisoners, their families and the community, at risk. We call for the Minister to publicly apologise for last week's debacle which has seen the public badly let down by the Department of Justice yet again.

Crisis Brewing in State Jails
WA: Figures released today reveal one of the states worst kept secrets 'the prisons are filling fast and will soon be overflowing. The ABS figures released today showed that Western Australia's imprisonment rate continued to outstrip every other state in Australia.

Justice Action and Prison Action & Reform are not satisfied with the review and will present an independent report to Parliament in August, based upon interviews with prisoners, prison staff and concerned community members.

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
The last calls that were made out of Parklea Correctional Complex by my partner, an inmate in remand at Parklea, was on Wednesday 2 February. The phone lines for the inmates have been out of service to this date.

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.