WRAP - No prison in Westbury

Independent MLC Ivan Dean says new Northern prison must address Tasmania's recidivism rate

By Adam Holmes
The Examiner
19 October 2020

Ivan Dean MLC says it's clear Tasmania needs a new approach to prisoner rehabilitation, supporting the remarks of Greg Barns SC.

Windermere independent MLC Ivan Dean has backed Greg Barns SC's view that the new correctional facility in the North should take a vastly different approach to Risdon, but believes Westbury is a better location for it than Launceston.

Mr Dean, a former Tasmania Police Commander, said the state's corrections system was clearly not working the way it should, with recidivism rates rising to the second highest in the nation at close to 50 per cent.

He was supportive of the rehabilitative focus advocated by Mr Barns, the chair of the Prisoners Legal Service Tasmania.

"We need to approach this in the century that we're in, rather than looking back behind us at something that hasn't worked," Mr Dean said.

"Any prison built today should be built in such a way that we've got a strong emphasis towards rehabilitation and working with prisoners to try to ensure that when they come out of prison, they're a much better person.

"I'm not sure our current system provides for that.

"If you turn a prisoner out of a jail with no support, then clearly they'll fall back into criminal activity. These people have got to be provided with the back-up support - such as housing on release - to give them something to live for, something to achieve."

The state government was yet to release detailed plans regarding what the new prison would consist of, although last year Attorney-General Elise Archer told Estimates it would be "designed to create increased opportunities for prisoners to find meaningful work on release".

Mr Dean said these details should be released to allow the public to play its part in designing a prison that suited the needs of the community, including input from justice experts.

But he said the Meander Valley region seemed like a suitable option - including near Ashley.

"Launceston is not the place for it, in my view," Mr Dean said. "This is all about having a prison that is central to people in the Northern part of the state."

Launceston independent MLC Rosemary Armitage said she also did not believe Launceston would be the right place for the new correctional facility, but had concerns that the government's consultation in Westbury had been more about "advising" than "consulting".

Independent McIntyre MLC Tania Rattray offered to have Mr Barns give his presentation to all upper house members.

Last week, a government spokesperson said the government "consistently looks to world's best practice models when planning, delivering and refining its rehabilitative programs", and the new prison would be "similar to and building on" those available at Risdon.

Greg Barns SC gave a presentation in Deloraine on Sunday outlining his vision for a "rehabilitation centre" rather than a Northern Regional Prison. Picture: Adam Holmes


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