Sunday, 29 June 2008

Female prisoners hit record high

A record number of women now in NSW jails.

Latest figures released show the number of female prisoners increasing at more than twice the rate of men.

On June 1 women prisoner numbers hit 748 - a rise of 219, or 41 percent compared to June 2003. For men the number rose from 7565 to 9083, a rise of 20 percent.

Experts say a rise in the number of women abusing alcohol and using illegal drugs, as well as a greater willingness for judges and magistrates to jail women, is behind the jump.

Laura (not her real name) used heroin, speed and ice. She said: "You don't get enough money from Centrelink to support your habit so you have to do crime. Jail was a big wake-up call for me and I won't be back."

Law Society president Hugh Macken said the courts might once have been hesitant to jail women. Now, that applied less. But he said most women were given short sentences, restricting meaningful access to the jail's education and health programs.

More women were in jail because of a rise in average minimum sentences for those convicted of violent offences and the number on remand due to tougher bail laws.

"There has been an increase in the proportion of women serving sentences of five years or more."

Dillwynia general manager Shari Martin said many of the women had "tragic lives" dealing with unemployment, abuse and mental health issues.

"They might seem tough but they're quite vulnerable and have no confidence or self-esteem," she said.

Dillwynia offers literacy and numeracy education, behaviour management, drug and alcohol counselling and TAFE-accredited courses such as hospitality.

Each Tuesday the prisoners' children can visit. And all but maximum-security inmates have keys to their own cells.

But Ms Martin said that, despite the pleasant surroundings, inmates - from petty thieves to murderers - have to earn their place in Dillwynia.

If they don't comply with the daily prison routine they are segregated or transferred to the maximum security Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre in Sydney.

"They don't come here to be punished, they come to address their offending behaviour," Ms Martin said. "It's up to the individual to better themselves - we can give them everything they possibly need and all the help in the world but if they are not willing to change their lifestyle they get out and keep offending."

Quote: All too willing to talk about minimum security but the real truth is what goes on in Maximum Security like the lady says, and doesn't say, that most of these women spend most of their time in Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre. Described as a hellhole with little or no programs or resources even compared to men’s prisons. A message for reporters. Read the links then go and do a story on hardship and not the rubbish about how good prisons are. Of course the prison system may not let you in there, why is that? No mention either about the current recidivism rate at about 50 percent? All prisons are a blight on society and only a spacebubble in terms of resources, compared to the wider community. Prisons mostly run on uncertainty, negative reinforcement, segregation and punishment, if prisoners don't accept their lack of opportunity. Shame on the NSW government. Get the the real story from people who have lived it at Justice Action


Return All Day Visits
The Department of Corrective Service has unexpectedly withdrawn traditional “all day visits” for family and friends visiting the women in Emu Plains. This has affected the children who relied upon that contact with their mothers. Children of prisoners are six times as likely to have mental health problems.

UN Torture Committee Blasts Australia
HRMU at Goulburn, inmates can be kept in inhumane conditions for an indefinite period. Last year, the NSW Coroner was also highly critical that mentally-ill people are placed in isolation in the supermax prison,” Mr Murphy said.

Lock ya up valley plans proceed
The Queensland Government is foolishly ploughing ahead with plans to build Australia’s largest prison in the Lockyer Valley. The announcement that this incredible waste of money will proceed despite a 4% drop in crime rates and no proportional increase in population is shocking.It is expected that the first stage of the new mega-prison in the Lockyer Valley will be a women’s prison. In 1991/2 there were 71 women in prison compared with 334 in 2006/7. If the incarceration rate of women in Queensland has increased by nearly 500% in 15 years, we should be doing more than just building a new prison: we should be investigating the reasons behind this trend and addressing the underlying problems.

Girls gone wild?
According to Australian Institute of Criminology figures covering Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, overall female offending rates increased only for assault between 1995 and 2006. The rate rose 40% for women, compared with 15% for male offenders. Nationally, the imprisonment rate for women soared between 1984 and 2003, by 209% for women compared with 75% for men. So what's going on? Are women really becoming more violent?

We owe prisoners more than jail
Prisons are too important to be left to jailers, for the simple reason that the standard prison magnifies social problems. It is a congregation of people with an accumu–lation of risk factors for crime.

2nd Renaissance -38
The prison system has never been reformed except in name. The prison system is, by now, incapable of reform, and the same can be said for the law enforcement and justice systems which feed it. This reality applies in most nation states within the old Level 3 Civilization, it is not confined to Australia, Britain and the USA. But that doesn't make it right for those administrations to be engaging in the incarceration of women and children. The practice is barbaric wherever it is practiced and by whomever it is authorised and administered.

International Conference on Penal Abolition

The full agenda for ICOPA is now online, and pending any further changes, the line-up is looking like we're going to have a fascinating conference. With speakers coming to present papers from Brazil, Trinidad, Canada, Australia, USA, Belgium, Argentina, South Africa plus many more including the UK, we are really looking at a truly international conference.

Welcome to

Inmate Gaby's photostream

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