The Bandyup Action Group has developed this Action Plan to identify practical steps that can be taken now, many by the community, to address issues raised in the OICS report of Bandyup Women’s Prison, published in October 2014 and tabled in Parliament.
The original design capacity of Bandyup is for 180 women. The report notes an ‘operational capacity’ of 259, while the Department of Corrective Services changed its terminology and updated the ‘total capacity’ of Bandyup to 321 women in January 2015. The actual 2015 population has been as high as 348. There is no ‘operational limit’ – women are sent there whatever the population is. Bandyup is run as a maximum-security prison. It houses no more than 20 women with this classification.
The remainder are minimum or medium-security women. Because it is a maximum-security prison, it does not provide work release or home detention programs. Women are ‘warehoused’ in Bandyup. The annual operating budget for Bandyup is $16.5 million; the cost of keeping a person in prison is estimated at $440 per day.
Bandyup prison is now so overcrowded, and its programs, health facilities and infrastructure so inadequate, that its systems are dysfunctional. The stated goal of government to reduce recidivism through a ‘woman-centred’ approach is a sham. Bandyup cannot and does not deliver the government’s endorsed policies, health models and educational and employment programs. It certainly does not comply with the state’s Substantive Equality Policy.
At any one time, about a third of Bandyup’s population is on remand and awaiting trial. More than half the women released from Bandyup each year are unsentenced. Just under a quarter of these women subsequently do not receive a custodial sentence. Almost 50% of the prison population are Aboriginal women. Aboriginal people make up 3% of the general population but they are imprisoned at a rate that is 15 times higher than it is for non-indigenous adults. Aboriginal women’s rate of imprisonment is even more disproportionate than for Aboriginal men. Three-quarters of fine default lock-ups are Aboriginal women. Approximately 30% of the women in Bandyup have severe mental health problems and 90% have been bashed and/or raped at some time in their lives.
ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION
The answer to overcrowding is not to build a new prison; it is to reduce the number of women imprisoned. If fine defaulters and women awaiting trial were not held in prison, some of the overcrowding problems now associated with Bandyup could be addressed and another prison for women costing millions of dollars would not be needed.
This could be achieved by introducing targeted community work programs and re-introducing a women’s bail hostel. If remand and minimum-security women were placed in home detention, there would be fewer than 150 women in Bandyup. WHAT YOU CAN DO The government has accepted 38 of the OICS report’s 40 recommendations, yet the only action we have seen is further installation of bunk beds in cells that were never intended for two people. It says it does not have the funds to implement the recommendations.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE ACTION PLAN BELOW.
Using this Action Plan, members of the community – YOU – can take steps now to address some of the issues identified by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services.
Each action has a rating from 1 to 5 indicating: 1 – a minimum cost and which can be done now by members of the community (highlighted so you can find them quickly) 5 – requires a significant degree of specialisation, cooperation and/or coordination from government and/or Bandyup management.
The page/para column gives the reference for the finding in the Report of an Announced Inspection into Bandyup Women’s Prison DOWNLOAD HERE
Send donations to: Bandyup Women’s Prison, 95 Middle Swan Road, West Swan WA 6055 Many of the actions require the cooperation of Bandyup management to simply accept donations and distribute them accordingly.
Please identify any step that you can take and action it now. If the action requires coordination, please contact us and we will facilitate contact.
Let us know of any action you take, so we can follow up on implementation and effectiveness. Visit our facebook page and come along to our weekly meetings.
Bandyup Action Group is a subcommittee of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (WA) Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.facebook.com/bandyupactiongroup www.deathsincustody.org.au twitter: @dicwc