Media Release Wednesday 24 May 2023
The Department of Correctional Services South Australia will host the world-leading professional body for corrections and prisons – the International Corrections & Prisons Association’s Corrections Technology Conference at the Adelaide Convention Centre on 24 and 25 May 2023. This is a surprise to local observers given the fact that no SA prisoner has access to computers in cells where they spend most of their time. See p.40 and the survey at p.41-2.
Another international Conference two weeks ago was hosted in Kenya by CURE, based in Washington DC with consultative status to the UN. The Nairobi Declaration for Detainee Telecommunications Rights was adopted by the conference, creating an international instrument bringing detainees into the digital age. The ICPA conference will be asked to endorse that document. We are in Adelaide for that purpose.
South Australia’s restrictive approach to community engagement, and lack of prisoner services, with the longest time locked in maximum security cells, lowest rate of higher education and least money spent of all Australian jurisdictions (p.7) has seen recidivism increasing rather than reducing as intended. See p.18 and the DCSSA statement.
Importantly, the rights recognised in the Nairobi Declaration include not only access to telecommunications, but also at a fair price. Telecommunications companies offer authorities a deal to install services on a ‘cost-neutral’ basis – which means they set it up so that prisoners, rather than the state, pay the capital costs through inflated prices for vital family calls. Prisoners and their families pay $2.65 for a 6-minute call that others make for free. Our research has shown that unlimited video calls and counselling could be provided to a 600-person prison for as little as $1 a month per prisoner, lowering recidivism and creating a safer community. Access to telecommunications offering all the publicly funded services is cheap, and has become as essential as water and shelter.