Open Prison Project

Unfortunately, society in general and prison authorities, in particular, treat prisoners as outcastes”
(The Dalai Lama, 1999)

To provide community input into the NSW prison system in order to:

  • Improve public perception of the criminal justice system.
  • Improve offender rehabilitation rates.
  • Reduce offender recidivism rates.
  • Improve prospects for social reintegration post release.
  • Develop personal and community responsibility in prisoners.
  • Improve public image of prison and offenders.
  • Increase prisoner participation in offender programs.
  • Reduce rates of violence within prisons.
  • Improve offender and community relations.
  • Increase offender understanding of community and victim impact of criminogenic behaviour.

To establish an independent agency that would manage and develop a co-ordinated body of volunteers and community groups that are prepared to enter NSW prisons in order to provide a multi faceted range of programs and activities that will:
assist offenders to develop skills and techniques that will enhance reintegration prospects. Including, but not limited to, skills that enhance employment prospects post release: enhance self esteem: develop interpersonal skills: develop a sense of personal and social responsibility and accountability.
involve victims rights organisations in formal and informal discussion programs that will enhance two way understanding of individual perspectives.
encourage the use of offenders to perform voluntary tasks that will aim at providing a form of restoration to the community they have harmed through offending.

It is commonly accepted that prison does not provide an environment that is either conducive to, nor encouraging of, offender rehabilitation. Prisoners are removed from taking personal responsibility for their lives and actions, being subjected to a militarised routine that actually serves to enable denial of responsibility for personal behaviour. Only a minority of prisoners currently participate in programs aimed at reducing the likelihood of reoffending, whilst the majority are influenced by an environment that serves to further develop patterns of offending behaviour.
Prisons have the responsibility of providing a regime that aids a prisoner’s resettlement into the community and reduces the risks of reoffending. With an escalating increase in the use of imprisonment, and prison populations, a challenge is presented to question the purpose of, or expected outcomes of imprisonment as a social tool.
In the 2002-2003 financial year over 600 million dollars of public money has been allocated to prison running costs. A further 342 million dollars has been allocated for the completion of new capital works over the next five years in order to cope with population growth inside NSW prisons. The completion of these works will then place extra demands upon the public purse in operating costs, and will not effectively provide for the expected population increases as projected through present patterns of incarceration.
The people of NSW have a right to expect a return for such a hefty investment and ongoing commitment of public funds. Presently it must be admitted, and is commonly accepted, that prison serves no useful function in reducing rates of offending, nor the prevalence of criminal activity in the community. The prison system must, as are all other public sectors, be accountable to the public. The present prison system must be examined openly and improved in order to better increase the usage of public monies and to provide an effective service to the people of NSW, ultimately resulting in the development of a prison service that has the capacity to positively impact upon offending rates and the reduction of crime in this state.
Under the present structural regime, it has been demonstrated that in order for prisons to reduce the rate of crime in the community by a mere ten percent, the prison population would need to double. The contemporary view that longer sentences and increased use of incarceration will reduce crime in the community is an absolute fabrication built of politically driven motivations, with no basis in solid ideological frameworks.
Internationally accepted research repeatedly demonstrates the failure of incarceration to serve as either a deterrent, or an effective means of ridding the community of criminal elements. Despite the escalating prison population, crime rates still increase, the public retains a perception of fear at becoming victims of crime, and the public purse is placed under greater pressure at the expense of services such as education and health.
It is therefore obvious that alternatives to retributive incarceration need to be explored, and that prisoner time must be constructively employed through activities that will assist in the development of attitudes which will have a real and lasting impact upon the development of behavioral traits leading to better citizenry.

Restorative Justice
The notion of restorative justice is usually considered in terms of relationships between offenders and their victims. Restorative justice can be explored in greater detail, with broader aims. We should consider the notion of restoring the offender into the community, and of restoring community confidence in the criminal justice system. We can consider methods through which offenders can complete acts of restoration to the community through performing community and charitable works. We can examine the tendency to demonise the ‘other’ and of socially excluding convicted offenders, instead seeking and encouraging active community participation within the prison walls through the implementation of workshops and other enterprises that enable community members and groups to work with and alongside offenders so that both are able to gain a greater sense of understanding of the ‘other’.
Through the use of community based restorative projects offenders can be helped to understand the impact of their crimes on the community, and through working for the benefit of the community, offenders can be enabled to develop a sense of community responsibility and belonging.
It is through social inclusion, rather than complete isolation that attitudinal shifts can be developed encouraging offenders to alter behaviours that are damaging, whilst enabling the growth of positive attitudes and the development of social skills that will lead to active social integration.

Restorative Justice in NSW – History
The first NSW restorative justice conferencing system commenced in Wagga Wagga in 1991, and was introduced through a police and civilian initiative. This primarily operated through a process of reintegrated shaming, and continued to function amid controversy for a period of three years without any legislative support. This scheme was entirely police based, and did not allow for other justice based agencies to have any input. Police acted as the sole gatekeepers in selection, organisation and co-ordination. The scheme was disbanded in 1994, despite the police claiming it a success.
Presently, one scheme is operated through the Department of Juvenile Justice, but its administration lies with the Youth justice Conferencing Directorate. This scheme has the backing of legislative authority through Section 37 of the Young Offenders Act 1997 (NSW).
This scheme relies exclusively on victim/offender mediation and conferencing, and does not contain any provision for the introduction of alternative restorative ideologies. The present project differs substantially in that the primary focus is placed upon the completion of charitable acts designed to return a material benefit to the community. A secondary focus is achieved through victim awareness programs being offered to prisoners, but does not entail direct victim/offender mediation procedures.
Under the present Youth Justice scheme in NSW only 3.4% of matters are referred by the police for conferencing. It is generally appreciated that police are reluctant to place a great deal of faith in the conferencing process as a viable alternative to court.

International Experience
Tihar Prison India
When Kiran Bedi arrived to take charge of India’s largest prison complex in the early 1990’s she found a facility built for 3,000 that actually housed 11,000, a facility that was understaffed, and what staff were available, actively corrupt, a facility that lacked adequate sanitation, food, or health services. The inmate population was exceptionally undisciplined, drug use was rife, stand-over the norm, and violence ruled. Within two years Tihar had become a showcase to the world of the manner through which a prison could become a place of rehabilitation.
Tihar now boasts a literacy rate of almost 100%, drug usage has been eliminated, prisoners respond to discipline, recidivism virtually unheard of, and sanitation, food and health services among the best in the world. This result was achieved through the vision of one woman, and in the space of only two years, without overly increasing funding.
Bedi’s philosophy can be summed up through a few of her own statements :
“The role the media played had some very negative consequences. (a) It made the community distance itself from the system in general and individuals in particular; (b) It made the prisoners inside the system subconsciously mould themselves in the image of incorrigible outcastes…”
“I wondered whether there was a vested interest in perpetuation of ignorance? Or was it the fear of exposure of a closed system which was the main reason for keeping information systems at bay? But the consequences were all there to be seen.”
“The challenge before us was what did we want the prison as an institution to be? Isolated, shrouded and unaudited? Or participative, contributory and socially audited?”
“The use of force…will only increase hostility and anger. …We will have to move on from merely keeping security to creating security. From a mere watchman to a keen educator.”
“The prisoners led a suffocated life and outsiders just did not know what went on behind the massive iron gates. Bedi’s efforts to throw the gates open to let the people know that a jail could be more than just barred windows and cells has been a step towards development.”
“…there is no substitute to community participation to forge reformation, in a substantial way. ‘Reformation’ and ‘Correction’ are based on environmental acceptance, both within the prison and outside. Community created the best environment necessary for the transformation…”
“What was required was an identification and recognition of their talent with direction and guidance as and when required. Here was a mass of human potential waiting to be entrusted with responsibility.”
“…there was a great degree of coordination between the staff and the prisoners, which proved productive. The earlier environment of mutual suspicion and even hostility were dispelled and replaced by a trusting attitude to organise community service.”
“…beneath these seemingly cold and hard exteriors were some very bitter, discouraged and depressed human souls desperately in need of understanding and acceptance. We decided… to look beyond their criminal record and trust them as human beings worthy of respect, in the firm belief that if we treat people as if they were what they ought to be, we will help them to become what they are capable of becoming – good human beings.”
“…retribution may assuage the hurt feelings of a victim, but it does not necessarily check the offender from getting at the next victim. In reconstructive justice we were to help move the offender from ‘breaking’ to ‘mending’. It was a process of sell-amendment of his own thoughts, feelings, actions, and reactions.”
All of the above quotes have been taken from Kiran Bedi’s own book, It’s Always Possible. The title itself suggests what many of us have forgotten, that if we apply the correct methods, even what may have once seemed beyond reach, can be achieved. Her philosophy was based on a few simple principles;
trust in prisoners
community involvement
restorative justice
open accountability
Through employing these seemingly simple techniques, through having the courage to be a leader and to make an attempt at improving an antiquated system that served little function, Bedi was able to transform one of the largest prison complexes in the world into a facility that fostered humanity and actually served a rehabilitative function.
Following the Dutroux affair of 1996, when Belgium experienced the horrors of child abuse and child murder, attention turned to the inadequacies of the criminal justice system.
Victim surveys resulted in uncovering the need to restore the confidence of the victim, their neighborhoods, and public belief in the good functioning of the criminal justice system.
It was found that the custodial experience did little to treat and rehabilitate offenders, often producing a reverse effect, and causing further damage to those within. This had the nett effect of increasing social risk, such increased risk being created by the very institutions designed to protect society.
Belgian research pointed to the need to develop restorative principles that focussed on the damage caused by crime and the resolution of conflict between people and within communities.
In 1998 six prisons were chosen to test out the possibility of using restorative justice ideologies to enable offenders to take responsibility for their actions and to help deal with the conflict between offenders and their victims and the communities in which they lived. By 2001 all of Belgium’s 30 prisons had appointed a restorative justice counselor to advise governors on the introduction of concepts and practices in line with restorative justice principles.
They found that it was important to work with the attitudes of those who support the victims, and that as long as these supporters stirred up antagonism and polarisation, that communication and reparation had no chance of success. Open communication was a major key to the success of the project.
Community participation was significant for the satisfaction of the victim, the offender, and the community in general. Evaluations of the project concluded that such participation resulted in positive effects on the self esteem of both prisoners and prison staff, and that they changed the attitudes of community participants towards imprisoned people. This helps to open pathways for reintegration upon release.
England and Wales
The question was asked of the British prison system, whether or not prisoners time was being effectively utilised through the prevailing practice of employment within prison industries producing goods for internal consumption. It was suggested that this in no way served to provide skills that could be realistically utilised after release for employment, nor did such employment aid in the process of rehabilitation.
It was agreed that the perpetuation of the prison system and practice, despite the widespread recognition that it failed to achieve any of the stated aims of rehabilitation or reduction of reoffending, was simply because no alternative had been found. It was further agreed that in order for such an alternative to be effective, that it should provide prisoners with a purpose, it should be a good and effective use of time. It should involve real work, and should give the offender a chance to ‘do good’ in order to restore some of the damage and harm caused by the act which led to their imprisonment.
“Prisons are full of people in desperate need of restoration – those most damaged and damaging to our society. Unresolved conflicts about their relationships with their victims and their community often remain within the person no matter how many personal development opportunities for change and learning they have taken in prison”.
Following extensive internal research, and through establishing a number of experimental projects in restorative justice, the process was found to be beneficial to both offender and community.
It was found that the majority of prisoners were enthusiastic about the prospect of doing worthwhile work in prison. Up to 72% of prisoners interviewed were willing to become involved in restorative justice work that benefited their victims, the local community, and which helped them to develop employable skills.
Projects are continuing, and success is notable within British and Welsh prisons. It is being discovered that even the most violent offenders will react positively when treated with humanity and respect.
It has been found that even among those who may start on such processes, and withdraw, a significant effect is still produced.
Offenders reported that generally they had very little chance to reflect upon their crimes whilst in prison, and that participation in restorative work resulted in greater comprehension of the meaning of ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability’.
Inside-Out Trust

* * *
Restorative justice practices and principles are currently being explored and employed in prisons throughout USA, Canada, Europe, and are even under consideration in Russia, where the Minister of justice recently commented:
“The expansion and tightening of modern punitive practice leads to a higher load on the penitentiary system, overcrowding of prisons, personnel shortage and an increase in spending of society as a whole.”

Restorative Justice in NSW – Potential Program for Implementation
First, this program must not be presented to prisoners as an integrated treatment plan. To do so would encourage inmate resistance. Instead it must be seen by prisoners as a method of gaining skills and improving their own chances of successful social reintegration.
Community and victim groups must not be encouraged to see this program as a means of providing a short term solution to the social problem of crime. Benefits from a program of this nature will be realised in the short term, but the full benefit will not become apparent until the project has been allowed to continue into the longer term. Community participants must be aware that initially the goal will be to develop a closer relationship between offenders and the community.
Ideally the project would be implemented, in the first instance, through the selection of a small facility located within metropolitan Sydney. This will allow ease of access for the greatest number of community organisations and individuals, and also allow simplified monitoring procedures to facilitate the ongoing assessment of the project.
It may be that an ideal location for the implementation of the project would be Area 3 MSPC. This facility would make an ideal selection for initiation as it contains a maximum of 160 inmates at any time, they are all classified as minimum security, although sentences remaining range from short periods of a matter of months, to four years, and more. As a facility housing sex offenders in a therapeutic environment, it encourages social groups to confront the least understood and most feared of all offenders within the prison system.
Implementation of a restorative justice program must be staged and gradual, with new elements being introduced as each stage is accepted and determined to be functioning effectively.
The project would begin with the introduction of community organisations that would encourage prisoners to develop personal skills, skills aimed at self management, and minor vocationally oriented tasks. Prisoners should be encouraged to participate in meditation and relaxation or stress management classes that are staffed by outside organisations and conducted in the main grounds of the complex. This removes the sense that such programs are Departmentally organised, and reinforces the perception of the community participative aspects of the project.
Involvement could be gradually expanded so that prisoners are then encouraged to undertake charitable works and other tasks that result in benefits to the community. It would be important that feedback to prisoners reflect community recognition of the benefits of such tasks. This would enable prisoners to develop a greater sense of self esteem, personal achievement, and strengthen the perception of being socially participative and of social inclusion.
This aspect of the project would be extended so that the goal would be to achieve a majority prisoner involvement in restorative community projects. As greater numbers of prisoners become more active in performing works of this nature it should be easier to encourage further participation by employing peer pressure in a positive manner.
Through this initial stage of community participation, involvement, and the provision of benefit returned to the community, the social perception of offenders, and the understanding of the internal functions of prison would benefit through a greater public awareness.
Once community involvement has become firmly established as a regular component of the daily prison routine, it would be envisaged that victim support groups would be slowly introduced to the prisoners. This could be achieved through involving prisoners in tasks that directly and obviously are for the benefit of victim support groups.
The next stage would be to encourage informal discussion between prisoners and victim supporters that would seek to promote greater understanding both for the offender of the victim, as well as the victim seeing the offender in humanistic terms. The initial aim would be to break down the barriers that create isolation and opposition between offenders and victims so that each is able to develop an understanding of the impact of crime and individual action.
Informal discussion could then lead to the development of specific goal oriented workshops that promote the development of proactive attitudes in both victims and offenders. The benefit of such a structure has been demonstrated internationally through the promotion of fear reduction in victims, and greater understanding of the impact of criminal behavior in offenders. Where such projects have been undertaken the results have proven themselves to be beneficial to all participants.
Ultimately the project would see the establishment of prison work projects that produce socially beneficial outcomes in material terms. It would also enhance public understanding of the prison organisation and reduce the barrier that is established that restricts offenders from developing socially productive lives post release. Offenders would improve their comprehension of personal responsibility and understand that they are accountable for their actions through gaining an increased understanding of the resultant effects upon individuals and groups due to previous patterns of offending behavior. Victims can arrive at an understanding of the fact that offenders are also human, removing the demonised ‘other’ notion, leading to a willingness to socially include offenders who have completed their sentence.
These results have all been proven to eventuate following rigorous research and experimentation on an international scale. The alternative is to continue with the present system of retributive incarceration, increasing sentences, increasing the prison population, and continuing to drain the public purse without providing any socially beneficial result.

The Need for Cultural Change Within the Prison System
Prisons are the places where our courts send people for the express purpose of punishment. The deprivation of liberty is often seen as the most important role of the prison system. Custodial staff within prisons accept this view, and often become suspicious and antagonistic to any activity that places responsibility upon prisoners, or that may be perceived as providing some benefit to prisoners.
In order for a project of this nature to be given the greatest possible chance of success such attitudes must be altered. Custodial staff at all levels must give such a project full and unquestioned support. It can be seen that prisoners will be given a greater degree of personal responsibility, and that they will also derive great personal benefits through the practice of the project. Such benefits will then flow on to the greater society, so that all people derive benefit.
Currently custodial staff see their role as one of a keeper, responsible for protecting society by ensuring the people under their charge are securely separated and isolated. This encourages an ‘us and them’ philosophy to pervade the system, and this exists not only among custodial staff, but throughout the prisoner population as well. This attitude must be changed so that people within the prison, both staff and prisoners, see each other as a resource that can be worked with. Custodial staff need to see prisoners as human beings in need of direction and guidance. Prisoners must see staff as a tool that can be employed in order to understand their position and gain greater insight into their behavior.
It is only through working together, prisoners, correctional staff, and community, that any real change can be realised in the management of criminogenic behavior. As it was stated by Dr Andrew Coyle:
“There are three key elements to the good management of a prison. They are security, good order and justice. Security encompasses the obligation which a prison system has to protect the public by making sure that the prisoners in its charge do not escape. Secondly, there has to be good order in a prison. There should not be disorder or anarchy. Prison should be a place where everyone, staff and prisoners, should feel safe as they go about their daily business. Thirdly, a prison should be a place of humanity and fairness, where people can have some sense of hope. These notions can all be encapsulated in the concept of justice. …these elements are not in competition with each other; they are complementary and depend on each other.”
Are we currently capable of considering our prisons as places that enable hope? Without hope for a better life, without being shown the potential for a better life, prisoners have no reason to decide to accept personal responsibility, or to change.

Project Organisational Structure
It is envisaged that the implementation and continuation of this project will be overseen by an organisational committee, with the committee comprising the project co-ordinator and representatives of:
Department of Corrective Services
Australian Prisoners Union
NSW Council for Civil Liberties
NSW Probation and Parole Service
Victim Rights Organisation
NSW Department of Education and Training
Aboriginal Justice and Advisory Council
NSW Department of Community Services
It will be the role of this organisational committee to review proposed activities and to recommend those suitable for inclusion within the project. The committee will also review the progress of the project and recommend implementation of stages of operation as required. Additionally, the committee will be responsible for supervising the distribution of funds throughout the project, and reviewing progress reports and results. Finally, the committee will be responsible for reviewing reports prepared by the project co-ordinator at regular intervals, and ensuring that the project maintains integrity.

The Role of the Project Co-Ordinator
The project co-ordinator will comprise a full time position. The co-ordinator will be responsible for the day to day running of the project; encouraging participation by both prisoners and community organisations; preparing reports on proposed activities for committee approval; ensuring adequate community feedback is returned to participating prisoners; preparing periodical reports on project progress; maintaining good public relations and encouraging positive media coverage; preparation and dissemination of literature on project operations.

The Role of the Community and Volunteer
Community and voluntary organisations and individuals participating in this project should provide more than simple services and tasks for prisoners. These are the people who will be working closest with prisoners, and they should avail themselves of this opportunity to forge relationships that are productive and beneficial to all project partners. Prisoners should be encouraged to discuss their experiences and problems with these participants. Such problems that can be rectified through Departmental intervention should be referred, through the project co-ordinator to the appropriate Departmental personnel for action.
Participants can assist in promoting the development of the final outcomes of this project through encouraging prisoners to see them as partners, rather than by remaining distant and detached. All participants in this project must develop a relationship that can be seen through a vision of partnership and social inclusion. It is through the socially inclusive attitude that prisoners will develop the attitudes and skills necessary to change, and which will ultimately provide the greatest social return.
See Appendix A for procedural components of volunteer and community involvement.

Victim Organisations
The role of representatives from victim rights organisations shall be to conduct informal discussion sessions that aim to develop an understanding of the victim perspective within prisoners. They shall also seek to develop a rapport with prisoners that allows a full exchange of ideas, so that they are in a better position to understand the psychology of prisoners. This will enable them to present a more balanced picture of the effects of imprisonment to victims.
Victim participants must involve themselves in a two way interchange of ideas that allows for growth in both prisoners and victims. These sessions must in no way become a weapon that can be wielded by victims in order to exact revenge upon prisoners.
Victim organisations will also be expected to play a significant role in the development and presentation of workshops aimed at a more formalised presentation of perspectives. Such workshops must also retain a balance and contribute to victim and community understanding of the conditions of imprisonment as well as prisoner comprehension of the impact of crime on individual victims, their families and communities.

Prisoner Participants
All prisoner participation must be on a strictly voluntary basis.
Whereas high levels of participation in project activities will no doubt play an influential role in considerations of prisoner security classification and applications for parole, these must not be used as a means of coercing or enticing prisoners to participate in any or all project activities.
Prisoners themselves must choose whether or not they wish to participate in project activities. Behavioural change is at its most effective when it is internally motivated. To use coercive means in order to increase participation rates will eventually destroy the essential elements of the project. Force, perceived or otherwise will only lead to prisoner resistance.

It is anticipated that the Open Prison Project will operate under funding that will be sought externally to the Department of Corrective Services. It is vital to the integrity of this project that the objectives are not compromised through vested interests.
It is thus expected that this project will be able to operate without causing an extra strain upon the reserves of the Department of Corrective Services beyond the provision of access to facilities and prisoners.
A detailed funding submission is in preparation. The nature of this project is such that the initial cost, on a per prisoner basis, will be reduced significantly after the project is expanded. Providing project co-ordination and overall operational costs will not differ greatly whether providing for 200 prisoners or 8000 prisoners. Ahead of a detailed cost analysis, operating expenditure is expected to be in the vicinity of ten dollars per NSW prisoner, per anum.
Distribution of funds and control of spending will remain within the functions of the organisational committee.

The Open Prison Project aims to:
Improve public perception of the criminal justice system.
Improve offender rehabilitation rates.
Reduce offender recidivism rates.
Improve prospects for social reintegration post release.
Develop responsibility in prisoners.
Improve public image of prison and offenders.
Increase prisoner participation in offender programs.
Reduce rates of violence within prisons.
Improve offender and community relations.
Increase offender understanding of community and victim impact of criminogenic behaviour.
These goals are to be achieved through the introduction of community and voluntary support groups and individuals into the NSW prison system in order to provide a range of services to prisoners.
Through the introduction of these services prisoners are expected to be given the opportunity to develop personal and interpersonal skills that will enable them to become more socially and personally responsible individuals.
Projects would be implemented into the NSW prison system that would enable prisoners to undertake socially worthwhile tasks that would enable the reparation of damage and harm caused to the community through previous offending.
Victim support agencies and individuals would be encouraged to enter into dialogues with prisoners to increase understanding in a two way relationship that would assist in reducing the barriers between the two groups. This would further result in prisoners accepting the need to take responsibility for their personal actions, and for victims to comprehend the humanity within prisoners, leading to greater social acceptance of prisoners post release.
Ultimately, the Open Prison Project aims to provide a holistic program of activities and services that would result in the development of a socially responsible role for the prison service, and result in outcomes that would see the prison become a useful social tool.
“The potential for restorative justice in prisons is considerable. It should not be seen primarily as a tool towards reducing recidivism (all the evidence is that this will happen) but as a means towards empowering offenders to take responsibility for their actions and to make amends to their victims and communities. …To sustain this work in prisons the offering of support may have to come from the community leading to an expectation that prisons can be true places of healing and transformation for the community as well as those directly affected by crime – victims and offenders”.
Appendix A
Procedure for approving volunteer and community

Proposals for establishing and utilising volunteer services shall contain:

(i) Description of proposed service
(ii) Objectives of proposed service
(iii) Target population
(iv) Institutional program affiliation (if any)
(v) Manner in which proposed service is to be evaluated
(vi) Manner in which the volunteer is to be provided with appropriate
(vii) Frequency of events
(viii) Qualifications of volunteer (in case of volunteers providing a professional
service, suitable proof of professional standing must be included)
(ix) A list of material or equipment required by the volunteers that is supplied by
the institution
(x) A list of items, articles, books, which will be brought into the institution by the
(xi) Any other relevant information

Each prospective volunteer must complete a “Volunteer Application” which is submitted with the proposal, and must await clearance.

Each volunteer shall be in only one group and shall declare the specific group on the

Contact Person

All volunteer groups shall make representations to the project co-ordinator who will be responsible for:

(i) Receiving volunteer proposals
(ii) Providing supervision
(iii) Assisting in providing orientation training prior to allowing individuals or
groups into the institution on a continuous basis
(iv) Liaison between community group and institution department

Security Screening

All volunteers must undergo a security screening prior to entry into the institution.

Volunteers on individual inmate visit and correspondence lists shall not be
allowed to visit as a volunteer.
Representatives of victim organisations shall not be permitted to visit any facility housing a prisoner involved in an offence that personally involves them.

All volunteer and community groups seeking to participate in the Open Prison Project shall forward their applications to the project co-ordinator, who shall then forward them to the security screening section of DoCs for processing.


All volunteers must complete an orientation program comprising of:

(i) Volunteer handbook
(ii) Tour of the institution
(iii) Security concerns and volunteers responsibilities
(iv) Communication network for volunteers
(v) Procedure at principle entrance
(vi) Conduct while in the institution

Liaison/contact officer must also conduct an interview aimed at determining the
suitability of each volunteer.

All volunteers must sign a document “Volunteer Participation Agreement” that

(a) absolves the service of any responsibility for harm, except if it is a direct result
of negligence on the part of the service, and
(b) acknowledges that they have received an orientation session and handouts.

Open Prison Project (R.63) Anna Lawarik Page PAGE 1 of NUMPAGES 16

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