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Baker's Dozen Unsustainable Problems within the Australian Prison System

  1. Many Prisons Are At Breaking Point With Associated Problems

  2. Overcrowding Exacerbates Prisoner Violence And Assaulting Prison Staff Evidencing Prison Lockdowns  -  Assaults against prison staff

  3. Material Public Purse Prison Costs

  4. Jail Is The University Of Crime

  5. A Negative Mindset due to facing a lengthy prison sentence whilst associating with other criminals.  'Ipso facto' Some inmates acquire further criminal techniques that some apply after release

  6. Australia's whacko recidivism/re-offending rates

  7. Self-harm  -  Prisoner suicides

  8. Drug taking - Needle sharing - Hepatitis - Mental Health - Social Costs Of Imprisonment

  9. Assaults against other inmates

  10. Prison staff numbers have declined

  11. 'Lifers' deemed never to be released are dying a thousand deaths; experiencing a manic depressive QOL

  12. Some prison officers are corrupt 'inter alia' supplying drugs to inmates and bashing others 

  13. Goulburn's Supermax prison is a breeding ground for Muslim extremists that, upon their eventual release, will perpetrate terrorism for their custodial confinement, possibly on a mass scale


Recognised Punishment Historians' coal face, bear pit understanding of what 'works' and what 'does not work' in the Australian prison system.

Chapter 3 'The economic and social costs of imprisonment' and  Chapter 4 'The over-representation of disadvantaged groups within Australian prisons' part of an Australian Parliamentary Report dated 2013:

A.     Chronicle the high monetary and social costs, as well as the abnormally high re-offending rates following prison incarceration.  Experiencing life in gaol does not offer the same deterrent effect that Capital and Corporal punishment does. 

B.    Evidenced that incarceration as a form of punishment is highly cost-ineffective and a breeding/training ground for more complex crimes, sometimes allied with newfound accomplices, because inmates are in regular contact with other adroit convicted law breakers.

3.24      Submitters commented on the health impacts of imprisonment. The increase in prison populations has caused overcrowding in prisons, which impacts on prisoner health. Drug use and related health issues are a concern with a higher rate of hepatitis C and HIV manifesting in prison populations due to needle sharing. The overall prevalence of hepatitis is estimated to be between 23 and 47 per cent for male prisoners and between 50 and 70 per cent for female prisoners.  As many prisoners move in and out of the corrections system quickly, these infections pose a risk to both the inmate and public health.  Prisoners with histories of substance abuse are also at a higher risk of death once released, particularly death from drug overdose.[27]

3.25      The prison population is also at risk in relation to mental health.  There is a high rate of mental health illness in the justice system with 31 per cent of imprisoned individuals reporting they had been told by a health care professional that they had had a mental health disorder in their lifetime, 'a rate 2.5 times higher than the general population'.[28]


   3.31    The increase in prisoner numbers is putting financial strain on the Australian justice system, which is quickly becoming unsustainable. Released prisoners are finding it difficult to find work and are facing multiple barriers to reintegrating with society. In addition, the removal of an individual from a community or family can have long lasting effects, as well as increasing financial burden. Due to the overcrowding of prisons, prisoner health is deteriorating and those health issues are being transferred to society with the release of prisoners. Governments need to address the long term economic and social costs of imprisonment to prevent further development of intergenerational offending, and occurrences of recidivism.

Below are quotes from Letters: prisons fail us all – policy has to change  -  Government ineptitude over many years has resulted in overcrowded jails and reoffending on a huge scale The UK Guardian – 25 Feb 2018, made by David J Cornwell, Gloucestershire, England (author of Criminal Punishment and Restorative Justice: Past, Present and Future Perspectives in England and Wales):

"The root causes of the malaise are simply stated: ill-considered penal policy-making resulting in an uncontrolled escalation in the daily prison population and a persistent overcrowding of prisons to the extent of making them virtually unmanageable in a safe and disciplined manner. In 2017, some 80 of the 118 prisons were “crowded” or worse.

The time has now come to redo the maths, revise the political rhetoric of prisons and enable them to deliver their essential social purpose. We might profitably start with a rebuttal of the infamous claim in 1993 by the then home secretary, Michael Howard, one of the original architects of the penal crisis, that “prison works”.

Let us be clear: prisons fail. They do so because too many minor offenders are sent there and overload their capacity to deliver their service to the state and the public. Prisons are, in their present state, unsafe and unstable for prisoners and prison staff.  Even worse, they are more than 60% ineffective in reducing reoffending within a year of release, at prohibitive cost to the taxpayer.  The time has come to reverse this deplorable situation in the national interest. Politicians, not HM Prison Service, carry the responsibility for making this happen."