Prison Violence - A Community Response
Prepared by Josh Forrest
We propose an idea to counter violence within the prison setting. The aim is to create safer prison environments for the prisoners that will, in turn, make it safer for the prison staff.
Based upon the principles of civil society, establishing interpersonal relations with prisoners and with the human right of freedom of association, we will prepare for the release of prisoners and then evaluate their skills that will be beneficial to society. This will help establish themselves and work their way back into society.
Recent situations involving prisoner deaths, such as that of Scott Simpson and Craig Behr have highlighted such issues. We have currently applied to participate in the Coroners Inquest into the Craig Behr case. Below you will find articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and prisoner treatment articles that relate to the cases of Craig Behr and Scott Simpson, illustrating what aspects of prisoner rights have been violated. A brief history of the case and inquest findings of both Craig Behr and Scott Simpson are also outlined below.
The Inmate Development Committee (IDC) Health and Safety Agreement Proposal is put forward in response to prisoner, family and community concerns about the need to improve communication in the areas of health and safety inside prisons. The IDC has representatives from all areas. This IDC proposal is a long-term project, supported by all prisoners, aiming to support prisoner interests in health, safety, with the values of tolerance, respect, non-violence, listening, inclusiveness and flexibility. It is a structure for personal and community development.
Human Right of Freedom of Association
Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Relevant Articles
Article 3- Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 6- Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 7- All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 11- (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
Article 20- (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
Article 25- (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
Article 30- Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
Treatment of Prisoners
Separation of categories:
8. The different categories of prisoners shall be kept in separate institutions or parts of institutions taking account of their sex, age, criminal record, the legal reason for their detention and the necessities of their treatment. Thus,
( a ) Men and women shall so far as possible be detained in separate institutions; in an institution which receives both men and women the whole of the premises allocated to women shall be entirely separate;
( b ) Untried prisoners shall be kept separate from convicted prisoners;
( c ) Persons imprisoned for debt and other civil prisoners shall be kept separate from persons imprisoned by reason of a criminal offence;
( d ) Young prisoners shall be kept separate from adults.
9. (1) Where sleeping accommodation is in individual cells or rooms, each prisoner shall occupy by night a cell or room by himself. If for special reasons, such as temporary overcrowding, it becomes necessary for the central prison administration to make an exception to this rule, it is not desirable to have two prisoners in a cell or room.
(2) Where dormitories are used, they shall be occupied by prisoners carefully selected as being suitable to associate with one another in those conditions. There shall be regular supervision by night, in keeping with the nature of the institution.
22. (1) At every institution there shall be available the services of at least one qualified medical officer who should have some knowledge of psychiatry. The medical services should be organized in close relationship to the general health administration of the community or nation. They shall include a psychiatric service for the diagnosis and, in proper cases, the treatment of states of mental abnormality.
B. Insane and mentally abnormal prisoners
82. (1) Persons who are found to be insane shall not be detained in prisons and arrangements shall be made to remove them to mental institutions as soon as possible.
(2) Prisoners who suffer from other mental diseases or abnormalities shall be observed and treated in specialized institutions under medical management.
(3) During their stay in a prison, such prisoners shall be placed under the special supervision of a medical officer.
Persons in detention shall be subject to treatment appropriate to their unconvicted status. Accordingly, they shall, whenever possible, be kept separate from imprisoned persons
Law enforcement officials shall ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody and, in particular, shall take immediate action to secure medical attention whenever required.
( a ) "Medical attention", which refers to services rendered by any medical personnel, including certified medical practitioners and paramedics, shall be secured when needed or requested.
( b ) While the medical personnel are likely to be attached to the law enforcement operation, law enforcement officials must take into account the judgment of such personnel when they recommend providing the person in custody with appropriate treatment through, or in consultation with, medical personnel from outside the law enforcement operation.
( c ) It is understood that law enforcement officials shall also secure medical attention for victims of violations of law or of accidents occurring in the course of violations of law.
Scott Simpson was taken into custody at the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre (MRRC), bail refused, around 3:50 pm on 30 March 2002. He was granted protection and, at about 6:10 pm, he was placed in a two-out cell with Andrew Parfitt who was also in protective custody, having entered the MRRC the previous day following revocation of his parole. Within 15 minutes Simpson had brutally attacked Parfitt, inflicting fatal injuries. The following day Simpson was placed in segregation. Except for two short periods, he remained in solitary confinement at various prisons until he hanged himself in his cell on 7 June 2004.
On 31 March 2004 Simpson was found Not Guilty of the Murder of Parfitt. Bell, J., in the Supreme Court, ruled that Simpson was suffering from a mental illness at the time he killed Parfitt. Her Honour had before her expert evidence from three psychiatrists, Dr Lucas, Dr Westmore and Dr Greenberg, describing Simpson as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Each expressed the opinion that Simpson was suffering a psychotic episode at the time of the attack.
Simpson had a lengthy criminal history. It is not necessary for me to review that in detail. Suffice to note that from his previous terms of custody, DCS had documented a history characterised by self-harm attempts, violence and mental illness.
In order to place the events of March 2002 in perspective it is instructive to look at what was happening in Simpson's life during the previous six months. On the 12 October 2001 police were called to premises in Granville, where Simpson was seen climbing over garage roofs. He told police that he was being watched by ASIO and the NCA. He was subsequently admitted for treatment of a psychotic episode to Cumberland Psychiatric Hospital on the 19 October 2001. Following his discharge on 31 October 2001, he went to Coffs Harbour to see his family. His behaviour became violent and bizarre and he was charged with offences arising out of assaults on family members. He was seen by a psychiatrist whilst in custody at Coffs Harbour and was prescribed anti-psychotic medication. He was moved to Grafton then to the MRRC on 11 November 2001. He was initially placed in a two out cell. On 12 November he was also placed, at his request, in protective custody (limited association). The two out placement was reviewed on 13 November when he made homicidal threats to his cell-mate. On 13 November a Mandatory Notification Form for inmates at risk of Suicide or Self Harm was also completed and a Risk Assessment Intervention Team (RIT) convened. On 16 November a notation on his file indicates that he was on the waiting list for D Ward the acute psychiatric ward within Long Bay Hospital. A further note on that day recorded, Inmate is presently at risk to himself and others. An entry on 18 November records a meeting between a psychiatrist and Simpson the previous day and confirmed that Simpson was going to D Ward. However, placement in a two out cell was now permitted. On 20 November the RIT was terminated. Dr. Ahmed also visited Simpson on that day and found him to not be mentally ill. Presumably, as a consequence of this diagnosis, his name was removed from the D Ward waiting list.
Simpson was discharged from the MRRC on 14 January 2002. However, I note that the Discharge Summary by DCS was not completed until 31 March 2002. On 27 March 2002 Simpson attended Parramatta Police station requesting to be taken into custody because he had failed to comply with the reporting requirements of his bail. Concerned with aspects of his behaviour, police officers conveyed him to Cumberland Hospital but he was not assessed as being mentally ill within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1990. Simpson was released on bail. On 29 March he initiated an unprovoked attack to a person and his vehicle while having a psychotic episode. The Custody Manager at Windsor Police Station, where Simpson was taken after his arrest, asserted that Simpson could snap at any moment. The following day, 30 March 2002, he was taken to the MRRC.
It is clear that Simpson was psychotic on 29 March. He was also psychotic, according to three psychiatrists, on 30 March. Why was his mental state not identified at his Reception Assessment on 30 March by Justice Health staff?
Scott Ashley Simpson died on 7 June 2004 when he deliberately hanged himself in his cell at the Long Bay Correctional Centre, Malabar.
To the Minister for Health
1. In relation to inmates of Correctional Centres who have been diagnosed with a mental illness and require treatment in hospital:
A. There should be a standardised procedure for admission to hospital.
That procedure should be based on the provision of Sections 97 and 98 of the Mental Health Act 1990 and the completion of a Schedule Three form. The procedure should be set out in writing and circulated to all visiting consultant psychiatrists and Justice Health Staff;
The members of the Committee making the decisions about hospital admission (which has superseded Dr Whites role) should hear personally from at least one of the medical practitioners who have examined the prospective patient and completed the Schedule.
B. There should be standard criteria for admission to hospital to be taken into account by the Committee. The criteria should be set out in writing and circulated to all visiting consultant psychiatrists and Justice Health staff.
(a) The criteria should be based on the Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness, namely that persons serving sentences of imprisonment for criminal offences, or who are otherwise detained in the course of criminal proceedings, and who are determined to have a mental illness, have the right to the best available mental health care;
(b) Specifically, in addition to the inmates present clinical condition, the committee should have regard to:
Any likely deterioration in the persons condition;
Whether the person has been placed in segregation and, if so, for how long;
Any non-compliance with medication;
The treatment options available outside a hospital environment, including the frequency of access to a psychiatrist.
C. Those persons in respect of whom a Schedule Three has been completed but who cannot be immediately placed in hospital should be placed under the care of a nominated appropriately qualified medical practitioner, who will take responsibility for their treatment and who will provide up-dated reports for subsequent meetings of the Committee.
2. In order to ensure that all relevant information is placed before Justice Health staff at the time of the Reception Assessment of inmates i.e. prior to the arrival of Justice Health files, a Discharge Summary should be completed by Justice Health staff on all inmates diagnosed with a mental illness within 14 days of their discharge. This Summary should then be made available in electronic form for access by Justice Health Reception staff in the course of all subsequent assessments on admission.
3. Given that decisions about placement within Correctional Centres and the release of forensic patients are made in other States by either an independent Tribunal such as the Mental Health Review Tribunal or by superior courts, a review should be conducted as to whether the present system of Executive responsibility is best suited to ensure the placement and movement of inmates on clinical grounds. The review should specifically assess whether, under the present system, the decision-making process about the movement of forensic patients ensures the best use is made of the limited available hospital beds.
To the Minister of Health and the Minister of Corrective Services
4. In relation to inmates with a mental illness, an integrated approach between Justice Health and the Department of Corrective Services should be adopted in decisions about placing those inmates in segregation and reviewing the relevant Segregation Orders to ensure that the consequences for the inmates mental wellbeing are taken into account. As part of that approach:
An appropriately qualified medical practitioner nominated by Justice Health should examine the inmate within 48 hours after the initial placement in segregation and a written report should be forwarded from Justice Health to the Department of Corrective Services detailing any clinical concerns and recommendations to address those concerns;
A similar assessment should then be conducted on a weekly basis and a written report forwarded to the Department of Corrective Services detailing any clinical concerns and concomitant recommendations.
To the Minister for Corrective Services
5. The Department of Corrective Services should adopt the policy that inmates diagnosed with a mental illness should be placed in segregation only in exceptional circumstances and for a limited period.
6. The Department of Corrective Services should ensure that Discharge Summaries on all inmates are completed and can be accessed by Reception staff within a reasonable time, at least within 14 days, after an inmates discharge.
7. The Department of Corrective Services should ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to the Working Party for the Reduction of Hanging Points, including the appointment of a full-time manager, to enable the current work of the group to be carried out at the earliest opportunity. Additionally, the scope of works should be expanded to include, on a priority basis, all cells in maximum and medium security institutions.
8. The Department of Corrective Services should implement a policy to ensure that any violent or other aberrant behaviour by an inmate at the time of reception into a Correctional Centre is immediately brought to the attention of the Justice Health Staff member conducting the reception assessment of the inmate. This should occur irrespective of whether the assessment has been completed.
9. The Department of Corrective Services should note that the policy in relation to immediately cutting down an inmate found hanging and commencing resuscitative efforts was not followed in this case. The Department should consider the best way of reinforcing that the policy should be complied with in all circumstances.
To the Attorney General
A protocol should be developed between the referring courts and the Mental Health Review Tribunal to ensure that notifications of the courts decision that a person has been found not guilty on the grounds of mental illness occurs at the earliest possible time and, at the outside, no later than seven days.
Magistrate D. Pinch
Deputy State Coroner
17 July 2006
Craig Behr was serving 7 years for sexual assault and aggravated break and enter. Craig had been placed in a cell with a psychotic inmate, Michael Alan Heatley, who within an hour of being placed in the same cell, had been brutally kicked to death. Michael Heatley had warned prison officials that he was homicidal and had an urge for killing someone. Prison officials ignored this fact and placed Craig Behr in the same cell despite Heatley's requests. Reports from other inmates say prison officials failed to attend to their many pleas for help, eventually coming 30 minutes later, which in the end was too late.
Judge calls for inquiry over prison bashing
By Amy Coopes
November 21, 2006 05:00pm
Article from: AAP
An INQUEST will ask why authorities put a young prisoner in the same jail cell as a psychotic inmate, who within hours kicked him to death.
NSW Supreme Court Justice Anthony Whealy today recommended an urgent public inquiry be relaunched into the death of Craig Anthony Behr.
Mr Behr, 24, was in March 2004 placed in a cell with Michael Alan Heatley, a chronically psychotic prisoner who sniffed, smoked and drank his dead father's ashes, and who believed he was the racehorse, Phar Lap.
Twice acquitted for armed robbery on the grounds of mental illness, Heatley was an inmate of Sydney's Long Bay prison hospital.
He had been placed in solitary lockdown because he was expressing homicidal urges two days earlier, and begged prison officers not to put Mr Behr in his cell.
One hour later Mr Behr, 24, had been kicked to death.
Heatley, 30, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, was today sentenced to a maximum 18 years prison for the "violent and brutal'' attack, and an unrelated armed robbery.
Justice Whealy recommended an urgent public inquiry be reopened into the failings of the Department of Corrective Services, which contributed to the death of Mr Behr, who was serving seven years for sexual assault and aggravated break and enter.
"A significant tragic factor in this case ... is that the Corrective Services Department permitted the deceased to be placed in the cell of a man who was in the implacable grip of an urge to kill someone,'' Justice Whealy said, in sentencing Heatley.
"I am satisfied that the placement of Mr Behr in the offender's cell occurred as a consequence of both systemic and individual failures on the part of some prison officers to adhere to proper practices and procedures,'' he said.
"Had those practices and procedures been followed ... Mr Behr would not have died.''
A coronial inquest into Mr Behr's death was terminated on February 25, 2005, pending the criminal proceedings.
Acting state coroner, Jacqueline Milledge, at the time foreshadowed a possible second inquest, following the Supreme Court proceedings.
The Attorney-General's department today said the inquest would be reopened once Heatley's 28-day appeal period had lapsed.
"If there's no appeal, they will reopen the inquest,'' a spokesman said.
Justice Whealy said there was a significant likelihood some witnesses had lied or deliberately withheld information, and the public deserved an "independent and free-ranging inquiry''.
"I would hope that this recommendation falls upon receptive ears, even though its consequences may be unpleasant,'' he said.
Corrective services today issued a statement in support of reopening the inquest, and said it would cooperate fully.
"The department acknowledges that the correctional system is not the ideal place for people suffering from mental illness,'' the statement said.
The hospital where Mr Behr died had since been closed, and a new 135-bed forensic facility was under construction, the department said.
All correctional officers who managed mentally ill prisoners also now received specialist training.
Outside court, Mr Behr's mother, Janet, said the family still wanted answers.
"You can be assured the Department of Corrective Services will have to answer and pay for what they've done because of their negligence in their duty of care,'' she said.
Heatley will serve a four-year fixed sentence for armed robbery, as well as a minimum eight years for manslaughter.
He will be eligible for parole in March 2016
Inquest into cell-mate's killing to be reopened
A coronial inquest will be reopened to investigate the killing of a prisoner in a Sydney jail.
Craig Behr was killed in March 2004 by his mentally ill cell-mate Michael Heatley at the Long Bay Prison Hospital.
Heatley has been given a 14-year maximum sentence for manslaughter.
The Supreme Court has recommended that an independent inquiry be held into why the men were put in a cell together, despite warnings that Heatley should be housed on his own because he was suffering from 'homicidal urges'.
A spokesman for the Attorney-General's department says the inquest into Mr Behr's death was always intended to be reopened, once the criminal case arising from the initial inquest was dealt with.
He says the inquest will be scheduled once the appeal period has lapsed.
The Corrective Services Department says it sincerely regrets Mr Behr's death, and will co-operate with any new inquiry
Craig Behr Inquest
- 538/04 Inquest into the death of CB on 27 March 2004
- Inquest terminated on 25 February 2005 at Glebe by Magistrate Jacqueline Milledge, Senior Deputy State Coroner
Craig Behr, a high-risk inmate because of self harm issues, was housed in the hospital of the Long Bay Correctional centre awaiting medical treatment. Because of his self harm status, Craig Behr was not to be housed one out.
On 27 March 2004, the deceaseds cellmate was removed to see a visitor and the deceased was placed temporarily with another inmate. Craig Behr was found dead in that cell.
Prior to a hearing of the facts, a person was charged in relation to Craig Behrs death and the inquest was terminated pursuant to s19, Coroners Act.
That Craig Behr died on 27 March 2004, at the Long Bay Correctional Centre, Malabar.
The inquest was terminated on 25 February 2005.
Senior Deputy State Coroner
Glebe NSW 2037
Fax: (02) 9660 7594
RE: Inquest of Craig Behr, case 538/04.
Dear Jacqueline Milledge,
We are writing to you, with a view to participate in the second inquest of Craig Behr, whose death occurred on the 27th March 2004, case number 538/04. The first inquest was terminated on 25th February 2005 under Section 19 of the Coroners Act 1980. However, a second inquest has been sought and is due to begin shortly.
Under Section 32 of the Coroners Act 1980, sub- section (1) Any person who, in the opinion of the coroner holding an inquest or inquiry, has a sufficient interest in the subject-matter of the inquest or inquiry may by leave of the coroner appear in person at the inquest or inquiry or be represented by an Australian legal practitioner, and may examine or cross-examine any witnesses on matters relevant to the inquest or inquiry.
Our experience in current and previous cases would assist you with the second inquest, with our knowledge and expertise a major benefit.
We wish to give evidence at the next inquest, to prevent future deaths in custody occurring, as has been exposed with the Craig Behr situation.
Justice Action has worked with prisoners representing their interests over many decades and has a great amount of experience and knowledge in this area. Some of our previous work includes:
Successfully defended the prisoners right to vote nationally at the Senate Inquiry in 1997 and represented prisoners of Australia this year on the same issue.
Supervision of people on community service orders since 1984
Coordinated the Criminal Justice Coalition for two and a half years
Facilitated the creation of the Australian Prisoners Union in 1999
Distributed the only questionnaire to prisoners during the Drug Summit and had six MP crossbenchers write the participation of Justice Action is absolutely crucial to deliberations at the Summit
In conjunction with the Council for Civil Liberties, Justice Action succeeded in preventing some of the worst excesses to the Home Detention Bill by ensuring that amendments were made to the Act
Are represented on the Justice Health Consumer Council
Correspond with prisoners through case workers
Consistently pressured the government to establish active steps to control the spread of Blood Borne Communicable Diseases in prisons through the immediate availability of condoms, clean syringes and dental dams
Lobbied the government to review the conditions and use of safe cells
Supported an ex-prisoners case against the government for negligence for failure to supply clean needles and syringes in prisons
HRMU Campaigned for an independent inspection of the High Risk Management Unit at Goulburn.
Please acknowledge this letter, give us standing to appear and let us know when the inquest is to begin.