Prison Administration

Legislative Council 
30 November 2016

Motion

PRISON ADMINISTRATION

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens:

1. That a select committee of the Legislative Council be established to inquire into the government’s administration of South Australia’s Prisons with particular reference to—

(a) the costs and impacts (upon prison officers, prisoners and the South Australian community) of the combined prison system operating continually above approved capacity;

(b) the government’s forecasted prison capacity in relation to its forecasted prisoner population;

(c) the correlation, if any, between prison overcrowding and the breakdown in proper administration of prisons;

(d) the following incidents which occurre d between July and October 2016:

(i) a prisoner given leave to attend a funeral but was prevented from re-entering the Yatala Labour Prison at the appointed time;

(ii ) a prisoner convicted of murder and rape was allowed to umpire an amateur football match;

(iii) two prisoners were able to tunnel under a prison fence and gain access to a prohibited area at Port Augusta Prison, then start a truck with the intention of driving it through a perimeter fence and, when noticed, held officers at bay within the prohibited area for four hours;

(iv) a prisoner has died and three prison officers hospitalised following a violent altercation at Yatala Labour Prison;

(v) a prisoner convicted of murder disappeared from a Corrections supervisor;

(vi) the recent seven-hour siege at Port Augusta Prison; and

(e) any other relevant matter.

2. That standing order No. 389 be so far suspended as to enable the chairperson of the committee to have a deliberative vote only.

3. That this council permits the select committee to authorise the disclosure or publication, as it sees fit, of any evidence or documents presented to the committee prior to such evidence being presented to the council.

4. That standing order No. 396 be suspended to enable strangers to be admitted when the select committee is examining witnesses unless the committee otherwise resolves, but they shall be excluded when the committee is deliberating.

(Continued from 2 November 2016.)

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 21:09 :16 ): I rise very briefly to support the motion of the Hon. Terry Stephens and to commend the minister for his words. I do believe that this is an area that should not be for political point scoring, and I do believe this is an area where we want justice in its broadest form and justice for all who are involved in it—a just justice system, in fact. Whether our policies of being tough with law and order are leading to what we are seeing, what concerns me the most about the current situation with our corrections system is why we have such an over-representation of certain types of people in our prisons.

I cannot understand, after 25 years and 339 recommendations on from the Aboriginal deaths in custody report, why we have such a high level of Aboriginal deaths in custody continuing to happen and why we have such a high level of Aboriginal people being incarcerated that is continuing to rise. Surely we are better, as a society, than this. Of course, members would be well aware, and the minister is well aware, that I am particularly interested in hearing the voices with regard to the case of Wayne 'Fella' Morrison and why a man who had never been in prison before ends up dying in custody a few days later.

I certainly believe that his family and their calls for the release of the CCTV footage, and their calls for answers and an independent inquiry, should be heeded. I believe that the words of the Aboriginal co-commissioner, Frank Lampard, should be listened to and that an independent investigation is needed to provide a sense to the community and, particularly in this case, the Indigenous community that we have a just justice system. I think that is what we would all like to see. With those few words, I support the motion. 

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