Prison Issues

Prison Issues

Prisoner Storage Rights

When people are arrested their ability to keep control of property is limited. The successful campaign in NSW has ensured this right remains safeguarded.

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Prisoners' Right to Storage


Prisoners in NSW are at risk of losing all of their personal possessions held in storage, from the time of their arrest. They were given less than two weeks notice to arrange for a person outside to collect their stored items or risk having them destroyed or sold. This situation occurred due to a change in government funding for Prisoners’ Aid Association. It maintained a storage facility for one thousand prisoners. This property includes documentation necessary for effective resettlement upon release. The right of prisoners to store their property after their arrest is not being respected, though it is clearly a legal and civil obligation. A video of interviews is here.

The right to store personal property after arrest is rarely respected, despite the state’s obligation to protect it. The campaign that defended the NSW storage program is being extended across not only Australia, but also internationally.

After thirty years of fulfilling this obligation, in 2013, Corrective Services NSW discontinued funding for the Prisoners Aid Association’s storage program. One thousand prisoners were told their property would need to be taken from storage or destroyed; understandably, they were outraged. This experience highlights the powerlessness of prisoners at the very beginning of their prison sentence, when they have been isolated from support.

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Parklea Prisoners Protest Crammed Cells

On March 11th, 2014, the private prison manager GEO implemented a new policy that crams three young male prisoners into two person cells the size of a bathroom for 18 hours a day. This prompted the outraged prisoners to petition for an open Inquiry into its effects, who decided it, after what research and consultation, and to stop it pending the Inquiry. They said A loophole has been found by GEO's legal branch enabling GEO to bypass existing laws The beds are being installed purely for profit.

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Prisoners right of possession

Prisoners right of possession is fundamental to their entitlement for respect. To tell their stories, express themselves in art and be paid for their creation is a basic human right. To be denied that is to abuse the power of punishment and to render the prisoner the status of slave. Download paper

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Malcolm Baker - a breach of the torture convention?

The NSW government’s treatment of Malcolm Baker highlights the need for Australia to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (OPCAT). Malcolm Baker’s treatment breaches the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT). Although Australia is a party to UNCAT, it cannot simply be trusted to honour its obligations under the treaty. If it could, Malcolm Baker would not have been treated as he has been. OPCAT should provide a control mechanism to hold Australia to account.

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Nagle Royal Commission Report

The Nagle Royal Commission Report has been digitised for the first time and is here available.

The fact that it has not been available is proof that those who were condemned by Justice Nagle for their "brutality and savagery" were never held responsible and are still in charge. The lack of safety for those in the secret places called prisons is a blight on our civilisation. Use of force is out of control.

Nagle Royal Commission Lessons – draft 30/11/12


On 22nd November 2012, the headline article in the Sydney Morning Herald brings the spotlight back onto the rampant assaults and blatant lies by prison officers once again. The ongoing history and exposure on the ‘use of force’ of prison officials can be traced back all the way to the Nagle Report, a report by the Royal Commission investigating the conditions and treatment that face prisoners on a daily basis. It was a shocking publication that caused a great outcry in the parliament and general public. However, the report was never digitized and made available to the public, and was effectively concealed from our community.

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Transgender Inmates

Transgender Inmates - General

How Does the Justice System Classify Transgender Individuals?
Transgender inmates classified by the Department of Corrective Services include persons who have been identified as being non-biological male or female gender, with or without having undergone gender-related surgery or hormone therapy appropriate to their choice.

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Life Prisoners' Inquiry: The Hearing Report

The NSW Parliament Legislative Council’s Inquiry into the Security Classification and Management of Inmates Sentenced to Life Imprisonment took place on the 23rd of November, and ran all day. The Standing Committee on Law and Justice consisted of representatives from the major political parties, and heard submissions from government representatives, major victims’ support groups, and Justice Action. All key players were present including the Commissioner Peter Severin, The Hon Reginald Blanch AM QC who was speaking as the Chair of the Serious Offenders Review Council (SORC), and Dr John Paget, the Former Inspector of Custodial Services. Channel 9 and other observers were also present to record the proceedings. Please see below for links to the transcript and media reports on the inquiry so far:

Transcript: Inquiry into the Security Classification and Management of Inmates Sentenced to Life in Imprisonment 
Channel 9: Criminals Share What Life is Like on the Inside 
Huffington Post: Ex-convicts and Experts Ask Inquiry for Prison Overhaul 
Justice Action and Enough is Enough Online Counselling Proposal
Email stream of negotiations with Corrective Services showing no progress
Life Prisoners' Inquiry Index Page

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Robert Veen Biography

60 year old Aboriginal man, Robert Charles Vincent Veen has served more than 42 years in prison after having received life sentences on two occasions. He was convicted for two separate counts of manslaughter, between 1975 to 1983 and again, between 1983 to 2015.

Life Prisoners' Inquiry Index Page 

Robert Veen’s case highlights what the lack of rehabilitative support in prison can cause. For his second life sentence he was held for twelve years past his release date finally being released this year after 34 years. He got the benefit of the Violent Offender Treatment Program but had been given conditional release as day leave and weekend leave for the previous several years. He learnt new skills to deal with his anger and frustrations.

Born in 1955, Bobby was a member of the stolen generation with a deprived childhood. A white family in Albury adopted him when he was two but was ultimately removed from their custody when he became too difficult to manage.  He attended primary school in Albury and then attended Wodonga Technical College until he was fifteen, reaching second year standard. The principal gave evidence that he had a good outgoing personality and was outstanding at the sports of swimming, football and cross-country running. However, according to court evidence, a male teacher at his school introduced him to homosexual activity and the trial judge also recognised indications that Veen’s once strong personality had gradually deteriorated as he began to feel the impact of the difficulties of a black person in a white society.

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