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Analysis and Comment (28)

Kicking foreign prisoners out isn’t – and shouldn’t be – easy. Kicking foreign prisoners out isn’t – and shouldn’t be – easy. Yorkshire Police

Why it’s difficult to deport foreign offenders

Once upon a time, you could tell an election was just around the corner when politicians of all kinds started talking relentlessly about crime. “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” was Tony Blair’s…
A Welcome to Country ceremony opens Darwin’s new $500 million facility last month to house rising numbers of prisoners, 85% of whom are Indigenous, a grossly overrepresented group. A Welcome to Country ceremony opens Darwin’s new $500 million facility last month to house rising numbers of prisoners, 85% of whom are Indigenous, a grossly overrepresented group. AAP/Neda Vanovac

Justice reinvestment saves huge costs of law-and-order auctions

A number of reports, most recently Victorian and NSW crime statistics, show crime rates are falling. But as election time looms in these states, their governments' focus on tough law-and-order policies…
Cutting sentences would take little more than political will. Cutting sentences would take little more than political will. Ian Nicholson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

How to reduce the prison population in one easy step

Alarm is spreading once again about the state of UK prisons, with reports that more than 15,000 assaults were committed by prisoners in 2013-14. Justice minister Chris Grayling might be quick to argue…
A recent Ombudsman’s report is damning of the Victorian criminal justice sector, particularly around issues of accountability and transparency. A recent Ombudsman’s report is damning of the Victorian criminal justice sector, particularly around issues of accountability and transparency. shutterstock

Lifting the veil on the crisis in Victoria’s prisons

Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer’s report on deaths and harm in Victorian prisons may have largely sailed under the public radar, but it shines a rare spotlight on the levels of systemic harm in custody…
HMP Grampian opened for business early in March. HMP Grampian opened for business early in March. George Lamb

Scotland’s newest prison is another nod to Scandinavia

HMP Grampian, which opened in March, lies on the southern side of the fishing port of Peterhead. This is high on the north-east Scottish coast, more than 50km north of Aberdeen. It is a public project…
When we imprison adults, we are more often than not imprisoning parents. So what happens to their children? When we imprison adults, we are more often than not imprisoning parents. So what happens to their children? shutterstock

As we imprison more adults, what’s happening to the children?

Over the past six months, Victoria’s prison system has been widely acknowledged as overcrowded and at “breaking point”. Police cells are full of those awaiting a court hearing. The County Court is being…
HMP Oakwood, the vanguard of British carceral design. HMP Oakwood, the vanguard of British carceral design. John M/Creative Commons.

Bad design breeds violence in sterile megaprisons

In the first few weeks of 2014, private security company G4S has repeatedly had to deny reports of full-scale riots at the UK’s newest prison, HMP Oakwood, near Wolverhampton. The prison has experienced…
Keys not cuffs. Keys not cuffs. Banspy

Police cells are no place for mental health patients

It is no secret that mental health services are in a sorry state. Last year saw lots of stories about the increased pressures being placed on treating people in the community and on beds in mental health…
Give me a hand, the key’s stuck. Give me a hand, the key’s stuck. PA

Hard evidence: does prison really work?

In front of British courts last year were 148,000 people who had 15 or more previous convictions, according to government figures. These reports deserve closer scrutiny. The justice minister, Chris Grayling…
Harsh measures of social control do nothing to solve the underlying problems. Harsh measures of social control do nothing to solve the underlying problems. shutterstock

As Victoria’s prisons overflow, it’s time to stop criminalising disadvantage

Reports have emerged today that police officers in Victoria are being forced to “babysit” prisoners who cannot fit into the state’s crowded prisons, leading to renewed criticism of the Denis Napthine-led…
The number of inmates in Victorian prisons is on the rise as part of the government’s tough on crime stance. But at what cost? The number of inmates in Victorian prisons is on the rise as part of the government’s tough on crime stance. But at what cost? shutterstock

Tough on crime: Victoria is not learning lessons from abroad

Locking up people is easy. It is the first refuge of intellectually bankrupt politicians clamouring for votes by “getting tough” on crime. A good general will read history before going to war, so a good…
Banged up: a Bill on prisoners' voting rights is presently before parliament. Banged up: a Bill on prisoners' voting rights is presently before parliament. PA Archive

Prisoners should not be locked out of democracy

The news that Peter Chester and George McGeoch have had their Supreme Court appeal against the ban on prison inmates voting dismissed will cause few people on the outside to lose much sleep - in fact the…
There’s been outcry over Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Breivik’s plans to study at the University of Oslo. There’s been outcry over Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Breivik’s plans to study at the University of Oslo. EPA/Stian Lysberg Solum/Pool Norway out

Anders Breivik and the humanity of education in prison

Anders Breivik ensured his place in history the day he shot dead 69 people on a small Norwegian Island, having earlier killed eight others with a bomb planted in government offices in Oslo. Breivik’s horrendous…
HMP Birmingham: assaults reportedly rose 46% HMP Birmingham: assaults reportedly rose 46% David Jones/PA

When it comes to prisons, big is not necessarily beautiful

As expected, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has announced the closure of four prisons: Northallerton, Dorchester, Reading and Blundeston. He has also confirmed that the “Titan” prison in Wrexham…
Prisoners' mental health was identified as an issue in the 1700s. Prisoners' mental health was identified as an issue in the 1700s. Pickersgill Reef

Police are unprepared to care for people with mental illness

As long ago as 1780, John Howard noted that prisons were housing more “idiots and lunatics” and emphasised the detrimental effects that this had on the prison regime for both sets of prisoners. But while…
Alcatraz has shut, but many more prisons have opened since in the US. Alcatraz has shut, but many more prisons have opened since in the US. Shobe834/Flickr

America’s penal arms race holds few lessons for the UK

It appears that Britain is following the United States in its addiction to the use of prison terms. The USA has led the way in the penal arms race with the introduction of such measures as “three strikes…
Prisoners are having sex whether we like it or not and a lack of condoms affects us all. Prisoners are having sex whether we like it or not and a lack of condoms affects us all. PA/Barry Batchelor

Prisoners have sex so let them have condoms

The idea of prisoners having sex upsets people; it offends our sense that prison is a place of punishment not pleasure. But sex still happens, maybe more than we like to think. And if it is happening…
Do we really need to track offenders from space? Do we really need to track offenders from space? satellite image via www.shutterstock.com

GPS monitoring may intrude on prisoners' privacy

GPS monitoring has been introduced as a potentially revolutionary technology to solve the problems that beset modern prisons - chronic overcrowding, uncontrolled costs, and the failure to correct behaviour…
The High Court decision against Palm Island rioter, Lex Wotton highlights concerns about how little our constitution does to protect us. The High Court decision against Palm Island rioter, Lex Wotton highlights concerns about how little our constitution does to protect us. AAP Image/Ian Hitchcock

Silencing Lex Wotton: Palm Island riot decision a blow for freedom of speech

When a prisoner has served their time, it’s difficult to understand why they would be stopped from engaging in public debate or communicating with the media. But a new precedent has been set by the High…
Victoria has the among the highest level of inmates imprisoned in privately run jails in the world, alongside the US. Victoria has the among the highest level of inmates imprisoned in privately run jails in the world, alongside the US. flickr/rlevans

Private prisons and the Productivity Commission: where is the value for money?

The Productivity Commission has just released a report on Government Services 2012 containing a 177 page chapter on corrective services. It found one third of Victorian prisoners were held in private prison…
It’s time the ACT government trialed a needle and syringe exchange program. It’s time the ACT government trialed a needle and syringe exchange program. Dave Blume

Sterile needles can stop the spread of disease in prisons – here’s how

It’s no secret that prisoners inject drugs. And because they don’t have access to sterile needles, inmates not only share needles – they share infectious diseases as well. The ACT government is currently…
It costs $207 a day to keep one prisoner in jail. It costs $207 a day to keep one prisoner in jail. Flickr/winterofdiscontent

Prison rates down, but not enough

Australia’s prison population is decreasing. But it’s a little too early to break out the champagne. The huge regional differences reveal that imprisonment is not based on the crime you commit, but the…
People who commit serious crime are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment. People who commit serious crime are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment. f o/Flickr

When freedom is fatal: the preventable deaths of recently released prisoners

A study published today in the Medical Journal of Australia concludes that more prison inmates in Australia die in the year after they’ve been released than the annual number of deaths in custody. A disproportionate…
Convicted killer Arthur Freeman is led away from the Supreme Court in Melbourne. Convicted killer Arthur Freeman is led away from the Supreme Court in Melbourne. AAP

The fraught issue of how we deal with mentally ill offenders

Arthur Freeman’s involvement in an altercation in Victoria’s Barwon prison this week has again highlighted the fraught issue of how we deal with offenders who commit crimes that many of us assume could…

Research and News (2)

Research Briefs (2)