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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3479 ..


Report on the Establishment of an ACT Prison

MR OSBORNE (4.11): I present Report No. 4 of the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety, the second interim report in the prison series, entitled "The Proposed ACT Prison Facility: Philosophy and Principles", together with a copy of the extracts of the minutes of proceedings. I move:

That the report be noted.

The establishment of a prison in the ACT is a matter of considerable importance to the Canberra community in terms of the financial cost and social impacts of the project. Members will recall that the committee has initiated a high degree of involvement in all aspects of the prison and that we are releasing a series of interim reports as our inquiry progresses. The committee intends to monitor the prison through to construction and we expect to release our final report just prior to the prison being opened, hopefully, in 2001.

This is the second interim report of the committee and covers the philosophical framework and guiding principles for the prison; public and private models of financing, ownership, construction and management of the prison; accountability; criteria for the evaluation of contract specifications; and coordination and planning for the effective management of prisoners.

The committee has gone to considerable effort to produce what I believe is a very thorough report. To date, we have visited nine prisons around the country, received 50 written submissions, and held three public hearings. The response by the Canberra community to this inquiry and their willingness to come forward with their well-informed views have greatly assisted the committee in preparing this report. This is a unanimous report containing 46 recommendations and a comprehensive checklist for the calling, evaluation and handling of tenders for the prison.

The first step in determining all aspects of the prison is to consider the characteristics and needs of expected prisoners. The average number of ACT prisoners in the New South Wales prison system has risen over the last three years from 110 to 125. Sample data shows that over 90 per cent of our prisoners are male, only 6 per cent are Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders, their average age is 31 years and their average length of sentence is eight years.

Committee members noted five common characteristics which greatly influenced our inquiry. They were that just over half our prisoners had not completed their secondary education, 56 per cent had a juvenile record, a third had previously been imprisoned as adults, 73 per cent were unemployed and 77 per cent had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Despite the range of data which is already available on past and present prisoners, the committee identified significant gaps in the sort of detailed information which prospective bidders would require for a well-planned facility.

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