A new report commissioned by the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) has highlighted that the role of Australia’s prisons need far greater levels of accountability and transparency, as well as a much stronger commitment to providing effective programs and treatment for people with drug and alcohol issues if we are to see any change in reoffending rates.
The report prepared by the National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) looks at the supply, demand and harm reduction strategies in Australian prisons. The report highlights that the vast majority of current prison system efforts on drug and alcohol programs are being directed at reducing the supply of drugs in prisons and that effective programs operating in the community to treat drug and alcohol use are either restricted or unavailable for prisoners.
The ANCD was particularly concerned with the extraordinary difficulties the authors faced in obtaining information from some prison systems. Some jurisdictions elected not to provide information whilst others declined to provide any further information than already publicly available – even after all ethical approvals have been met.
As a consequence, the ANCD is calling for the introduction of regular, transparent and independent reviews of every prison to determine the breadth and level of services available to address drug and alcohol problems and reduce reoffending.