Lawyers Oppose Jail System Privatisation
The NSW prison system is poised for peril unless the NSW Government abandons plans for prison privatisation according to the Australian Lawyers Alliance NSW president Jnana Gumbert.
Ms Gumbert was speaking as some 3700 prison workers, including Corrective Services staff from Lithgow, Bathurst and Kirkconnell Correctional Centres, were walking off the job on Thursday.
Prisoners were in lockdown while the staff attended stopwork meetings protesting against ongoing government plans for prison privatisation.
“This is a very fine line the NSW government is walking here,” Ms Gumbert said.
“Reducing crime and recidivism rates can only be compromised by a system of privatisation that would put profits before people,” she said.
“There are worldwide documented inadequacies and human rights abuses in other privatised prisons and detention centres.
“Commercialisation compromises accountability and justifies restricted access to critical information about prison operations and agreements with government.”
Ms Gumbert said the Australian Lawyers Alliance had made a detailed submission to the NSW Government on the dangers of prison privatisation in March, as had many other law and justice organisations, but despite this the government had decided to go ahead with privatising both Parklea and Junee Prisons.
In its submission the Alliance had recommended that rather than privatising prisons, the government could aim to reduce the size of prison populations with programs to assist in preventing offending behaviour; proper treatment for those with mental and substance abuse issues; effective rehabilitation programs and diversion to community programs.
“We still live in a country where fundamental rights can be ignored by our law-makers and eroded through poor administration and bureaucracy.
“This is just another example where poor decision making stands to exacerbate growing incarceration levels, threaten human rights and unravel the fabric of responsible society,” Ms Gumbert said.
Jnana Gumbert is also a Director at Stacks Law Firm