Prison overcrowding confirms ministers must listen to workers
Prison overcrowding confirms ministers must listen to workers - PSA
A report into prison overcrowding shows what happens when politicians take a "tough on crime" stance without thinking through the consequences, the PSA says.
The lobby group JustSpeak has identified four reasons behind the growing prison muster, including tougher bail laws, tighter access to parole, the three-strikes policy and reoffending by people deported from Australia.
PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says the findings should be no surprise to the government.
"Unfortunately, this report simply reinforces what we’re hearing from our members," says PSA national secretary Glenn Barclay.
"Getting tough on crime might play well to certain voters, but it solves nothing if the conditions in prisons are not conducive to rehabilitation and the government's target of reducing re-offending.
"Not only does that put wider society at risk, our members will be at risk too."
He says much of the $1 billion the government spends on the prison service annually would be better spent on reducing the social factors that lead to crime in the first place.
Willie Cochrane, PSA national organiser and former corrections officer, says the impact of prison overcrowding is easy to dismiss unless you’ve worked there.
"If you take a ‘lock ‘em up and forget ‘em’ approach, you’re also forgetting about the people working there," he says.
"Corrections is a hard enough job already without throwing more fuel on the fire."
In one final irony, JustSpeak found rising house prices have led to fewer low-cost "secure" housing options - leaving many people ineligible for bail.
"If this situation is to have any chance of improving then the cabinet must stop pandering to the crowd and start listening to what it is really happening from the people who are living it," Mr Barclay says.