Prison Issues

Prison Issues

Grafton Prison


Latest News:
Serco Abusive Prisons, Not Grafton Next!
Grafton Community Interest Research
Plans Unveiled for Australia's Largest Prison
Grafton Man to Unfairly Lose Home 

Grafton Prison currently houses 64 inmates. The NSW Government has announced developments will ensue in order to provide a maximum capacity of 1700 inmates by 2020. These developments will be the product of a partnership between the Government and a private enterprise (a Consortium consisting of Serco, Macquarie Capital, John Liang and John Holland).

Serco is an international service that works with government and public service providers in seven key sectors: Citizen Services, Defence, Facility Services, Health, Immigration, Justice and Transport. This company delivers services to the UK, Europe, North America, the Middle East, New Zealand and Australia. In 2017, Serco (as part of the Northern Pathways Consortium) was awarded the contract for the operation of the New Grafton Correctional Centre.

Serco claims to deliver a responsible prisoner model that promotes respect, encourages positive behaviours and allows prisoners to learn and take responsibility for managing their own circumstances. They directly manage prison accommodation, prisoner mental health services, prisoner transport, and rehabilitation programs. They also aim to reduce recidivism to improve social outcomes and reduce the burden on law enforcement. 

Despite these claims, Serco’s track record for international prison management has been met with severe criticism. Serco’s deviation from its doctrine of prisoner autonomy and rehabilitation in these instances not only questions the reliability of Serco’s management of the New Grafton Correctional Centre, but also the broader consequences of prison privatisation.


Supermax's cruel and degrading conditions


On March 11, a select group of thirteen prisoners, all Muslim, were re-classified as ‘extreme high-risk restricted’, without any explanation provided as to why these changes suddenly occurred. The majority of these prisoners have been convicted of terrorism-related offences, except for two prisoners who are still awaiting trial on terrorism offences. The prisoners’ new classification was accompanied by a raft of unprecedented changes to conditions inside the prison, which have been described as ‘cruel and degrading’.

Justice Action has raised serious concerns regarding the introduction of strict new security regulations at Goulburn’s ‘Supermax’ Correctional Centre. The regulations clearly breach A10 of the ICCPR, which state all persons are to be "treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person". Justice Action has written a letter to the Commissioner to urgently review these changes. 

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Domestic Violence

domestic violence photo.jpgLATEST NEWS
Domestic Violence Prevention Paper  

The prevalence of domestic violence continues to increase at an alarming rate; perpetrators of domestic violence offences are amongst the most represented groups within correctional services.  

The clear need to explore additional counseling options for domestic violence is demonstrated by the high recidivism rate. With 20.3% of perpetrators reoffending within twelve months of release, online services could provide crucial assistance in ending the cyclical nature of domestic violence.  

In 2015, Justice Action offered to conduct a free 3 month trial of online delivery of councelling services in NSW correctional services. You can view more here.

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Deaths in Custody

Deaths in Custody  

David Dungay Jr death in custody inquest

Deaths in Custody are an expression of the ultimate failure in the duty of care of police and corrective services when they isolate people from their support. 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. 

Single cell
 accommodation as an option giving privacy and safety is recommended by "The Standard Guideline for Corrections in Australia 2012". Frank Townsend, Scott Simpson, Craig Behr are some of the victims of forced shared cells



Tracy Brannigan’s avoidable death in custody marks the loss of a loved one and must force change in the prison system. She was owed a duty of care but rather than accepting responsibility, they isolated her in a cell away from her family and support. Their callous indifference caused her death.

Tracy Brannigan's case and Inquest raised issues that haven't yet been addressed, despite the wide distribution of the Tracy Brannigan Action Plan.


2006 Prisoner Statistics
2005 Prisoner Statistics 



Recommendation 41 of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody defines a death in custody as follows:
(i) the death wherever occurring of a person who is in prison custodyor police custody or detention as a juvenile;
(ii) the death wherever occurring of a person whose death is caused or contributed to by traumatic injuries sustained, or by lack of proper care whilst in such custody or detention;
(iii) the death wherever occurring of a person who dies or is fatally injured in the process of police or prison officers attempting to detain that person; and
(iv) the death wherever occurring of a person who dies or is fatally injured in the process of that person escaping or attempting to escape from prison custody or police custody or juvenile detention.


NSW Privatisation 2009

2009 Legislative Proposal for Privatisation
Following the proposed privatisation of Parklea Correctional Centre, a parliamentary inquiry called for a three month pause in negotiations. Justice Action presented a media release arguing the privatisation of Parlea is morally wrong (view here). Notably, the Legislative Council held an inquiry that received 453 submissions with all but eleven in opposition to privatation, including the multinationals and Corrections. This was followed up with a 'black ban call' on the five private multinational corporations tendering for the prison (view here). 

Community Support
The community says NO!  There was a one hundred day picket line on Premier Rees' electoral office, leafletting of shopping centres in fourteen electorates on Super Saturday May 30, rallies and a Statewide Day of Action. The government started to empty Cessnock Jail in preparation. Shuffling at Parklea and Long Bay are currently in occurance. Strikes and lockdowns are happening in response.

Justice Action has consulted with the prisons and now joins the PSA and Unions NSW to oppose the privatisations. 

Unions NSW passed a resolution at their meeting November 20: "Unions NSW congratulate Justice Action for supporting the Prison Officer’s strike against the NSW Government’s proposals to privatise Parklea and Cessnock Prisons."

Sylvia Hale, Greens spokeperson on Corrective Services, denounces GEO Parklea prison contract (view here).

Further Reading

Notice for public hearing on privatisation of prisons

Transcript of proceedings before the inquiry
Relevant sections
   >Presentation of evidence by JA on behalf of NSW prisoners: p40-51
   >Presentation of evidence by NSW Department of Corrective Services Commissioner: p2-24
   >Presentation of evidence by prison officer's union: p25-39

JA submission to parliamentary inquiry

Attachment to submission: 'Community not Corporation'

Stateline ABCTC transcripts, 20/7/09 and 27/2/09

Greens' Minister Sylvia Hale's Urgency Motion for Amendment Bill to prevent privatisation

Midnight eviction of Cessnock prisoners: Media Release 16/3/09


Prison violence is a major issue among prisoners and is one that requires urgent attention. Justice Action aims to campaign against prisoner violence, making prisons safer for inmates. Current projects we are working on include the deaths of inmates Craig Behr and Scott Simpson. Justice Action has applied to the coroners’ court to participate in the upcoming second inquest of Craig Behr.

Corey Brough

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has ruled that Corey Brough, an adolescent Aboriginal man with a mild intellectual disability, has been the victim of human rights violations at the hand of the New South Wales prison officials whilst being detained at Parklea Correctional Centre in Sydney. The Australian Government, a signatory to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has refused to acknowledge the Committee's decision and are currently ignoring calls for an effective remedy for this vulnerable individual.

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Beyond Bars - Nº8


Aboriginal People and the Criminal Justice System
There are many Indigenous people in prison in NSW. This fact sheet provides some basic information about why Aboriginal people are imprisoned at such high rates in NSW, and looks also at what this means for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

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Health in Australia's Prison Population


By Susan Allan, 12 June 2006

During the past weeks, since Alice Springs Crown Prosecutor, Nannette Rogers, made allegations on national television about widespread child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities, Australian politicians and the media have stepped up demands for repressive measures against Aboriginal people.

At the centre of the campaign has been federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough. Last week, after claiming rampant lawlessness in many Aboriginal communities, Brough insisted that before the government would consider spending money on Aboriginal health and education, 'law and order' would have to be established and violent offenders jailed.

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