Inmates with special needs
There was an average of 25 male and 1 or 2 female Aboriginal sentenced inmates and 6 detainees in the prison system in 2004. These figures rely upon self-identification.
Consultation with Aboriginal organisations and members of the community has included production of an information sheet distributed through Aboriginal organisations and meetings with Aboriginal organisations and individual community members, including Aboriginal prisoners and ex-prisoners.
The issues raised have included:
- the need to be able to separate different types of prisoners to ensure safety and protection
- addressing the recommendations of the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report, such as the inclusion of 'buddy' cells
- creating a culture within the prison that recognises and affirms Aboriginal cultural heritage
- ensuring access to appropriate programs
- pre-release support
- developing alternatives to imprisonment
Consistent with the increase in the male population, the number of women inmates has shown a marked increase.
Based on predictions of future numbers, provision will be made for up to 45 women in the system.
Due to their special needs, women of all security levels have been accommodated in the one separate facility at Risdon.
The basic principle is that women should have access to the same range of services as male prisoners.
The provision of a multi-function facility will facilitate the efficient delivery of services to smaller groups of women prisoners.
The Women's Prison complex will include a facility secure enough to accommodate those women on remand or serving longer sentences, who are classified maximum security.
There will also be a facility to appropriately accommodate women classified at lower security levels and provide a regime appropriate to those levels.
It is also important that facilities be provided so that, where appropriate and approved, young children can be accommodated with their mothers.
The aging population profile of Tasmania and recent court cases involving older people have contributed to an older prisoner age profile than in previous years.
Traditionally, prisons have largely been populated with young inmates. The planning process has taken into account that in any prison population there will be some older inmates.
The smaller accommodation units included in the new prisons will provide the capacity to separate prisoners with different needs from each other.
The accessibility of the facility will also help the Prison service to accommodate and manage older prisoners.
The issues for prisoners with physical disabilities have been raised during consultations for the project. The facility will comply with the Disability Act.
Within each prisoner accommodation block provision has been made for at least one disability access accommodation bed.
Where two cells are provided, one will be fitted for right hand side access and one for left hand side access.
Walkways within the campus will be built on a 1:20 gradient to ensure they are accessible.
The needs of prisoners with intellectual disabilities will be assessed as part of the reception and assessment process and appropriate programs and accommodation will be determined at this point.
A number of prisoners require protection because of the nature of their offence or because they have 'enemies' in the system.
Consistent with both the increase in overall numbers and an increasing number of inmates who have conflicts, the number of inmates requiring protection has increased over past years and continues to do so.
A figure of 10% of the whole system is considered to be appropriate when planning facilities that must provide quite separate accommodation for those prisoners with high level protection needs.
The self-contained nature of the proposed units and the layout of the prison complex will facilitate the use of certain units for housing prisoners requiring a degree of protection and providing them with appropriate degrees of segregation for their own safety.
In addition to prisoners requiring protection due to threats from other inmates, there will be a number of prisoners who may be at risk of self-harm or who require in-depth assessment of their needs so that the Prison Service can respond appropriately.
Within the new facilities there will be specialist units that enable prisoners with these needs to be accommodated in small, purpose-built units while their needs are assessed and an appropriate program is developed for them.
Younger inmates can be exposed to a level of risk if housed with the adult prison population.
The proposed arrangement of a number of more self-contained accommodation units will mean that particular units can be allocated for younger, more vulnerable inmates to be separately housed.