This committee, chaired by Ann Symonds MLC, made 287 recommendations related to women in prison. The report documented the women’s prison population at that time, and affirmed Nagle’s recommendation that prison be used as a sanction of last resort. It noted that 78% of women had a drug or alcohol related addiction, and that 84% had been in prison before. It noted that women in NSW were far more likely than those from most other states (eg. Victoria) to be:
- held in prison on remand
- held on remand for more than three months
- receiving longer prison sentences
- imprisoned for drug possession or use
At a time when the NSW women’s prison population was only around 150, the report urged the Government to take immediate action to reduce the imprisonment rate of women in this state (p.40). In the mid 1990s, Corrective Services took up one of the Task Force’s recommendations, by creating the first Transitional Centre for Women (at Parramatta) - a minimum security facility which allowed women to keep their children, and to work in the community, much like a half-way house. The Transitional Centre is one of NSW Corrective Services’ few success stories in recent times.
NSW Women in Prison Task Force (1985) NSW Parliament, Sydney.
Report of the N.S.W. Women in Prison Task Force Download Here