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Conditions

Prisoner Storage Rights

When people are arrested their ability to keep control of property is limited. The successful campaign in NSW has ensured this right remains safeguarded.

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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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Prisoners' Right to Storage

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Prisoners in NSW are at risk of losing all of their personal possessions held in storage, from the time of their arrest. They were given less than two weeks notice to arrange for a person outside to collect their stored items or risk having them destroyed or sold. This situation occurred due to a change in government funding for Prisoners’ Aid Association. It maintained a storage facility for one thousand prisoners. This property includes documentation necessary for effective resettlement upon release. The right of prisoners to store their property after their arrest is not being respected, though it is clearly a legal and civil obligation. A video of interviews is here.

The right to store personal property after arrest is rarely respected, despite the state’s obligation to protect it. The campaign that defended the NSW storage program is being extended across not only Australia, but also internationally.

After thirty years of fulfilling this obligation, in 2013, Corrective Services NSW discontinued funding for the Prisoners Aid Association’s storage program. One thousand prisoners were told their property would need to be taken from storage or destroyed; understandably, they were outraged. This experience highlights the powerlessness of prisoners at the very beginning of their prison sentence, when they have been isolated from support.

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Rapid Build Prison Dormitories

 

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The NSW Government has adopted a new concept in prison architecture to allow an urgent response to an unexpected surge in prisoner numbers. This new form of imprisonment, holding 800 maximum security prisoners in dormitories of 25 together, is being constructed without public discussion about the consequences. The CJC has researched the international experience of prisoners dormitories and is concerned that this sytem raises levels of violence, bullying and fear, with damage to prisoner health and recividism. The uncertainty surrounding the concept of a dormitory styled prison is exhibited by plans to demolish the Wellington complex within 5-7 years.Cubicles in the dormitories will be 3m by 2m with partitions 1.5m high and no door. An increased level of activity will be offered using computers with educational access and potential for email.

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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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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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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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