Prison Issues


Women in Prison

Ex-criminal Kat Armstrong Approved to Practise As Lawyer


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Prison is not an isolated institution, it is part of a continuum in the control of women, whether by our lack of access to economic independence, violence, racism or specific laws that target women such as prostitution and social security. The society that condemns the behaviour of women it imprisons, yet accepts the treatment prisoners are given inside is at best hypocritical, but perhaps more correctly, sadistic (Amanda George, 1993). 

The prison system takes people from their families and communities, crams them into an overcrowded and oppressive environment, subjects them to isolation, violence, torture, guard brutality, organized white supremacy, and a life of boredom and useless toil, then releases them with little to no support to face poverty, post-trauma stress, and ongoing persecution from the law.

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Beyond Bars - Inquiry Into Treatment of Women

Submission to the Anti Discrimination Commissioner for an Inquiry into the Discrimination Experienced by Women Prisoners within the Criminal Justice System in New South Wales

Written and Submitted by:
Members of the Beyond Bars Alliance NSW
Kat Armstrong, Vicki Chartrand & Dr. Eileen Baldry
May 2005

The Purpose of this Submission
On 20th July 2004, the Beyond Bars Alliance wrote to the Commissioner of the Department of Corrective Services (DCS) NSW, the Attorney General of NSW, the Commissioner of Police of NSW, and to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (see Appendix I) seeking an inquiry into the treatment of women prisoners in NSW.

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Women of Minority in Prison

Women from non-english speaking Backgrounds in Prison

Imprisonment is an isolating, dislocating and frightening experience for any prisoner. For those from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds (NESB) these experiences can be intensified.

Many prisoners from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds have to contend with a racist culture both within and outside the prison, as well as the active discrimination from courts, police and correctional institutions. Despite the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of 'race, colour, gender, marital status, physical disability, religion, political affiliation or national origin' in Office of Corrections operational principles, NESB prisoners frequently experience discrimination whilst in prison.

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Roseanne Catt

This case exposes the thorough erosion of so much that is good in our society - the issues themselves become clouded by disbelief. Roseanne Catt is already the longest serving female prisoner in NSW.

Roseanne Catt was found guilty of trying to kill her husband in 1991. She was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment (of which she served 10 years) for possessing a revolver and assaulting, stabbing, attempting to poison and planning to murder on her ex-husband Barry Catt.

During those ten years, Roseanne continued to protest her innocence. She had always (and honestly) maintained that she was framed as a result of a conspiracy between her ex-husband and the detective who investigated the case, Peter Thomas.

In 2001, the truth was finally revealed when the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal received fresh findings by the judge who found that Mr. Thomas had used improper methods of investigation. The corrupt ex-NSW Detective had conspired with others to fabricate evidence and lay false charges, subsequently misleading the court to falsely convict and innocent woman. Roseanne was found not guilty and was released out of prison.

As a result of her 10 years of wrongful incarceration, Roseanne has now become the state's longest serving female prisoner. For the pain and suffering she endured at the hands of the state's corruption and false conviction, there is widespread support both politically and from the community for Roseanne to be compensated, coupled with a public apology by the Government.

Further links:

An archive of the days before the judge can be read, and the full story exposed by following the story below.
The accounts are emails relayed by a staunch, and long time supporter of Roseanne Catt's - the effervescent Sister Mary Court. Let her emails tell the story...

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iExpress: Now launching prisoners & mental health patients online!

Justice Action is proud to introduce iExpress, the world’s first prisoner webpage and interactive email system aimed at empowering people in prisons and forensic hospitals and bringing them into the digitial world, reducing the divide and social exclusion that currently exists. They will now have the opportunity to access an exciting, new channel of self-expression and communication, free of charge. Launch video here.

We are bringing them out of the cells and onto the net! iExpress website

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