Prisons must contribute to building a safe and just society, by rehabilitating prisoners, and successfully reintegrating them into the community on release.
As the Victorian Government considers Expressions of Interest to build and operate a new prison at Ravenhall in the Western suburbs of Melbourne, the Interchurch Criminal Justice Taskforce has called on the Victorian Government to ensure that the new prison is focused on these key areas.
The Government requirements around the new prison include maximising rehabilitation, and the provision of high quality mental and general health services ,and effective transitional support. Potential providers have been asked to outline how they would approach these and other issues.
“The Government must provide a prison that incorporates best practice in all of the key areas of operation and responsibility”, according to Denis Fitzgerald, chair of the taskforce. “This will require that it take the best of the ideas that are put forward by the various bidders.”
“Investment in good health and rehabilitation is cost effective for the community in the longer term, with reduced crime rates, and increased productivity – cutting costs can jeopardise the building of a safer community.”
“To maximise community safety, the ideas that emerge for best practice must also be incorporated into existing prisons in Victoria.”
The involvement of private operators in running the new prison brings added risks. The longer-term safety of the community may be compromised in the search for financial efficiencies and higher profits.
The Taskforce is also very concerned that the focus on new prisons comes at the expense of a broader efforts to improve community safety by tackling the causes of crime.
Enquiries to Denis Fitzgerald, Chair, Victorian Interchurch Criminal Justice Taskforce 0418 136 372