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Prison Issues

Prison Issues

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

Introduction

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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Garry Page Biography

Garry Page has served 13 years in prison, between 1976 and 1989, of his indeterminate life sentence after being convicted of  malicious wounding with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. Justice Maxwell deemed it necessary to deliver this sentence on Garry Page on account of his aggressive behaviour.

Life Prisoners' Inquiry Index Page 

While he was growing up, Garry lived with his abusive and alcoholic father. His father knocked him around a lot and forced him to fight. Garry began to retaliate and defended himself in response to the treatment he received from his father. He attacked his father, almost ending his life.

Garry, conscious of his behaviour and concerned about the impact he could have on the people around him, was proactive in seeking a solution. In 1972 Garry went to Callan Park to volunteer to have a bilateral amylgdalotomy, believing this serious surgical procedure could alleviate his aggressive behaviour. At Callan Park, Professor Kicoh diagnosed him as an aggressive psychopath and described his aggression as amounting to a ‘disability’ which warranted the operation. Despite his efforts, the operation did not provide the changes Garry hoped to achieve. The worst effect was the loss of memory, which Garry later found out, was not caused by the operation, but by alcohol consumption.

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John Killick Biography

John Killick is a 73 year old man with a strong sense of perception and standing within the prisoner community having lived in it for over five decades. He was only recently released on parole in January 2015. As a reformed ex-prisoner his special story is that he’s observed the desperation of lifers, understanding the experiences of those whom have nothing to lose. Life prisoners whom are offered no hope and classed as ‘dangerous’ to other prisoners and to themselves.  He has special experiences to share with the standing committee.

Life Prisoners' Inquiry Index Page 

Having been in and out of the prison system since 1960, John Killick was seen as extremely dangerous, to be excluded for many decades from the general community and portrayed as an untrusted person within society. He may infamously be known as Australia’s first ‘decimal currency’ bank robber and remembered for his part in an audacious and desperate escape in a helicopter, at the risk of his own life and others. Today he stands as a man in balance with the community, surrounded by supportive family and friends around him, having completed a book of his experiences and about to publish a second. John represents a man previously isolated and distrusted; now having recovered, he exemplifies the philosophies of hope, and effective rehabilitation.

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Disability

Latest News:

Invitation to Human Rights Watch Event 07/02/2018 - "Australia: Abuses against Prisoners With Disabilities"

The treatement of prisoners with disabilites within the correctional and justice system is a pressing issue. A large propotion of the prison population has a form of a disability - either physical, or intellectual. This proportion is greater than that of the general popultation. States and territories do not have an inititive to diagnose prisoners for mental illnesses and having diabled defendants being directed plead guilty by their lawyers is a common occurence due to the threat of indefinate detention - hence the high disabled population.  Conditions for disabled inmates are also problematic as there is little to no outside support from outside organisations and communities.

 

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