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Initiatives

Campaigns

Emu Plains Prison Visits

Return All Day Visits

The Department of Corrective Service has unexpectedly withdrawn traditional “all day visits” for family and friends visiting the women in Emu Plains.

This has affected the children who relied upon that contact with their mothers. Children of prisoners are six times as likely to have mental health problems.

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Introduction

Death in Custody is the ultimate failure in the duty of care that is incumbent upon police and corrective services.  In the 1980s some 100 Indigenous lives were lost in similar circumstances.  In the 1990s, a further 147 perished in prisons and detention centres around the country.

Justice Action does not per se maintain a facilitator with specific responsibilities for Deaths in Custody-related issues. Rather, we recognise all deaths in custody, under any circumstance, as the ultimate failure in the duty of care that is incumbent upon police and corrective services to fulfill. The immediacy of response required when a death in custody occurs is a JA group responsibility.

We work in close alliance particularly with the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of New South Wales. Despite the clear mandate of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the investment of hundreds of millions of government dollars, the deaths continue uninterrupted.

The sharp increase in the numbers of Aboriginal deaths in custody indicates that the recommendations of the Royal Commission are not being properly implemented and continues to reflect the grossly disproportionate representation of indigenous peoples within the criminal justice system.

Justice Action is currently pursuing numerous deaths in custody cases.


Safe Cells

Safe cells are used for prisoners at risk of self-harm or suicide and are used to keep prisoners under constant visual observation. A CHS nurse described these as unfit for dogs. Justice Action has successfully lobbied for a review of these cells and has been involved in ongoing discussion with CHS about their use.

Acts up for Review

The Mental Health Act 1990 and The Mental Health (Criminal Procedure) Act 1990 Are Up For Review
The Hon. Greg James QC, President of the Mental Health Review Tribunal, has examined options for reform of mental health within the prison sector. The central issue considered in this review is the appropriate authority or person to make decisions in relation to the terms and conditions of detention, release and conditional release of forensic patients. The Paper provides a discussion of various reform options in relation to such decision-making, including arguments for and against replacing the current system of executive discretion with a more structured system operating through the Mental Health Review Tribunal or the courts. The paper also examines the therapeutic and detention mechanisms for forensic patients and the inter relationship of the mental health and justice systems, as well as the role of victims in those systems, with a discussion of various options. Consequential and complementary options are also considered. 

http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/pubs/2006/mh_forensic.html

Inquest of Craig Behr

We are writing to you, with a view to participate in the second inquest of Craig Behr, whose death occurred on the 27th March 2004, case number 538/04. The first inquest was terminated on 25th February 2005 under Section 19 of the Coroner’s Act 1980. However, a second inquest has been sought and is due to begin shortly.

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DNA - Documents

JA Articles and papers on DNA testing

Please note:
All the linked documents below are in a .PDF format, and will require the Adobe Acrobat Reader.
The reader is freely available at Adobe.com

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Emu Plains Update 11/06

30 Nov 06 - The Campaign to return all-day visits to Emu Plains

Visiting at Emu Plains came up at the last hearing before the Parliamentary Committee GPSC3 on 17/11/06. Some truth came out and the Department's (DCS) intentions were made clear.
Download campaign Flyer (PDF. 54k)

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Prisoner Rights to Vote

Voting Rights for Prisoners
Currently Australian prisoners serving sentences of less than only three years can vote in federal elections. In Aug 2004 Federal Parliament restricted the right to vote to those serving sentences of three years or less.

Now the coalition wants all prisoners barred from voting in federal elections with the introduction late last year of the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Bill.

There is no evidence that disenfranchising prisoners deters crime or assists in rehabilitation. It is more likely to increase alienation and disengagement from mainstream society and any sense of civic responsibility. This would disenfranchise 25,353 voters of which more than half are expected to serve sentences of less than two years; ie who are likely to be released within a political term. It is a double disenfranchisement for the 5,656 Indigenous people in jail who lost their ATSIC vote last year.
Click here to download an information flyer.
(Prisoners Vote flyer - 182k. PDF format)

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Offer of Hope

small_yth.jpgThis prisoner initiative was made to governments to help break the cycle of destructive vengeance in our prisons. It was launched on International Human Rights Day 10 December 2005

Prisoners in the dungeons of the HRMU segregation unit Goulburn Prison, Australia prepared the statement that formed this offer. It has been presented to governments without response. It requires them to recognise the humanity of those they torture.

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Jail at Windsor

Stop the Womens Jail is working to ensure that the proposed womens jail at Windsor is not constructed. We are determined to see that the unanimous recommendations of the multi-party Select Committee on the Increase in Prisoner Population are implemented.

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Group Violence

The Dynamics of Group Violence
The Australian Institute of Criminology has released a report examining some of the factors behind group violence:
Swarming and the social dynamics of group violence
Rob White

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Save The Inspector General

The Department of Corrective Services is unique in that it is the only Department in which the government has total control over its citizens.

This requires extra care to ensure that the extraordinary powers are not abused. It is necessary for there to be correspondingly extraordinary accountability, safeguards and specialist knowledge. The trend in other states is to maintain an office of Inspector General.

For more information please click on the pdf links (arrows) below.

SUBMISSION

RESPONSE TO REVIEW

"The abolition of the Office of the Inspector General of Prisons:
Legal Briefing Paper" by UTS Community Law Centre. January 2005

 

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