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Committee Details

Legislative Council Select Committee on the Increase in Prisoner Population

The Committee was established on 17 November 1999 to inquire into the factors responsible for the increase in prisoner population since 1995 and the consequences of that increase. The committee is to make an interim report by 1 May 2000 on matters relating to women and a final report on remaining matters by 1 October 2000.

Specific issues for the committee's consideration include:
- the effectiveness of imprisonment, including for people with special needs, Aboriginal peoples, and people with a non English speaking background,
- the use of prisons for people remanded in custody,
- the effectiveness of building a new women’s prison to address increasing numbers of women prisoners and any contract entered into for such a prison,
- alternatives to incarceration, and
- post release policies and coordination of integrated assistance.
House resolved 17 November 1999, 2nd Session, Minutes No. 23, Item 4.
1. That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report on:
(a) the factors responsible for, and the consequences of, the increase in
prisoner population since 1995 (being 40% in females and 20% in males),
(b) issues relating to incarceration, including but not limited to the matters
in paragraphs 2 and 3.

2. That, in relation to women, the Committee consider:
(a) the effectiveness of imprisonment as a response to all women who are
currently sentenced, including those with special needs, such as women with
intellectual, physical and psychiatric disabilities,
(b) the effectiveness of imprisonment as a response to Aboriginal women who are
sentenced,
(c) the effectiveness of imprisonment as a response to women with non English
speaking backgrounds who are sentenced,
(d) the effectiveness of using the prison to house all women who are remanded
in custody, and using the key indicators of recidivism and cost effectiveness,
(e) the adequacy or otherwise of building a new women’s prison as the most
effective method of addressing the problems of increasing numbers of women in
prison and the adequacy or otherwise of the plans, terms and conditions of any
contract entered into or proposed to be entered into in relation to a new
women's prison,
(f) the adequacy or otherwise of alternatives to incarceration, including those
currently utilised in New South Wales and those trialed in other jurisdictions,
which purport to deal effectively with female criminality,
(g) the wider social implications of incarcerating women in New South Wales,
(h) the factors responsible for the dramatic increase in the female prisoner
population in the last four years,
(i) alternatives to incarceration and their adequacy or otherwise, including
those currently utilised in New South Wales and those trailed in other
jurisdictions, which purport to deal effectively with criminality,
(j) the effectiveness or otherwise of post release policies of the Department
of Corrective Services and co-ordinating of integrated assistance to inmates by
Government Departments, including Housing, Health and Community Services, with
a view to reducing recidivism.

3. That, in relation to men, the Committee consider each of the matters set out
in paragraph 2 (a) to (j), substituting the word "men" for "women" wherever
occurring and "male" for "female" wherever occurring.

4. That the Committee present an interim report dealing with the matters in
paragraph 2 (a) to (j), in relation to women, by 1 May 2000 and a final report
dealing with the remaining matters by 1 October 2000.

5. That, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Standing Orders, the
Committee consist of the following members:
(a) 3 Government members nominated in writing to the Clerk of the House by the
Leader of the Government,
(b) 2 Opposition members nominated in writing to the Clerk of the House by the
Leader of the Opposition,
(c) Dr Chesterfield-Evans and Ms Rhiannon.

6. That the Committee have leave to sit during any adjournment of the House to
adjourn from place to place, to make visits of inspection within New South
Wales, and other States and Territories of Australia with the approval of the
President, and have power to take evidence and to send for persons, papers,
records and things, and to report from time to time.

7. That should the House stand adjourned and the Committee agree to any report
before the House resumes sitting:
(a) the Committee have leave to send any such report, minutes of proceedings
and evidence taken before it to the Clerk of the House,
(b) the document be printed and published and the Clerk forthwith take such
action as is necessary to give effect to the order of the House, and
(c) the document be laid on the Table of the House as its next sitting.

8. That on receipt of a request from the Committee for funding, the Government
immediately provide the Legislative Council with such additional funds that the
Committee considers necessary for the conduct of its inquiry.

9. That this House requests the Government to impose a moratorium on the
building of a new prison for women at Windsor until the Government has
considered the Committee’s interim report to be presented in May 2000.

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