Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Inquiry into West Australia's prison system

The Prison Reform Group welcomes the announcement of the 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.

WA's prison system needs a new start. It needs a blank page to start from. It also needs some robust recommendations that will revolutionise work practices and the management and operation of prisons.

For the past decade isolation, politics and cosy relationships have led to a system that has seriously underperformed and has continued to slide into entrenched despair.

The inquiry should be left to pursue its investigations unencumbered by political opportunism. It should be allowed to recommend changes that do not try to preserve the pet projects of either the present government or the former one. The needs for this inquiry are complex and the involvement of the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services is good and supported by PRGWA.

In relative terms, the costs of the inquiry should not become an issue as currently we have more than 3,000 people held in WA prisons at a cost of $80,000 per person per year. In other words the stakes are high.

The Prison Reform Group welcomes the inquiry and looks forward to providing what information and support it can to Mr Mahoney and the inquiry team.

By PRGWA posted 13 April 05


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