Increasing prison population
Prisoner numbers have risen significantly in the 2015/16 financial year, which has altered our approach to several long term initiatives to improve the prison network. With increased numbers we have continued to establish and maintain a secure prison environment.
The Department of Corrections has a statutory obligation to accommodate all prisoners sentenced to imprisonment by the Judiciary. The prison population is influenced by many factors outside of Corrections’ control. These include legislation, judicial decisions, crime levels and policing trends.
With the increased prison population, Corrections still maintains a secure environment
We establish and maintain a secure environment at prisons through a combination of management practices and physical features and systems. These reflect the level of risk related to a prisoner’s security classification. Corrections has invested in a range of security improvements at sites across the country during the last decade, including enhanced perimeter fencing, installation of detection and surveillance systems and the introduction of single points-of-entry into prisons.
2015/16 has seen a continuation of the solid performance in core custodial services including no physical breakout escapes and low levels of incidents within prisons.
The higher prison population does result in increased costs for Corrections
The prison population has consistently increased since 1985, and Corrections has responded by increasing prison capacity, delivering more rehabilitative services, buying more reintegrative services and ensuring staffing matched demand.
The investment in new staff, who wish to make a difference in the lives of others and build a career with Corrections, is now supported by the Frontline Futures programme. Frontline Futures is a programme of work designed to refresh our recruitment, preparation and development of new staff, and to give existing frontline staff more opportunities as probation officers, corrections officers, case managers, programme facilitators and offender employment instructors.
To meet future needs for the accommodation of prisoners, Corrections was tasked in March 2016 with developing a programme to identify and deliver an appropriate capacity response over the next ten years. The primary objective of the programme is to deliver a safe and fit-for-purpose prison network, which can accommodate expected growth in demand while remaining resilient to uncertainty.
As a result of the increased costs associated with a higher prison population, Corrections’ baseline funding was reset in Budget 2016 in acknowledgment that it is unlikely that the overall prison population will decrease in the short term.