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Church agencies back Queensland prisons report

Centacare and Catholic Prison Ministry in Brisbane have gone public in support of a report that concludes Queensland Corrective Services is failing prisoners and society and is in urgent need of reform.

This Sunday's Catholic Leader features comments on the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) study, which is titled Incorrections: Investigating prison release practice and policy in Queensland and its impact on community safety. The report, released last Sunday, is a joint project of the UnitingCare Centre for Social Justice and other prison agencies, including the Catholic organisations Centacare, Catholic Prison Ministry and BoysTown.

At the top of its 50 recommendations is a call for "a large scale, public inquiry into corrective services ... with an emphasis on actual practice rather than the legislation or policy documents".

The author, QUT law lecturer Tamara Walsh, says that evidence shows Corrective Services is failing in its aim to 'correct' prisoners.

The report says that with Queensland's prison population increasing by 11% between 2002 and 2003, and recidivism at 60%, 'whatever measures the department is taking to promote community safety are not proving successful'.

Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence, responding to a parliamentary question on the report, refuted claims about the recidivism rate.

Ms Spence said recidivism was measured in five different ways and that on three of those, 'Queensland is performing better than the national average'.

Centacare pastoral services director, Fr John Chalmers (pictured), who was a member of the reference group for the study project, said progress on prison reform was made after the Kennedy Report was presented to the State Government in 1988.

Failure mark for corrections (Catholic Leader 28/11/04)

Report slams brutality in prisons (Sunday Mail 21/11/04)
Queensland Prisons Special (ABC Qyeebskabd 23/11/04)
Tamara Walsh - Law School Academic Staff (Queensland University of Technology)

26 Nov 2004