While successive Labor and Labor-Green Governments took a band aid approach to dealing with the many complex issues that confront any prison environment, we are working hard to find long-term solutions.
It’s important to remember that prior to the election of the Liberal Government there was no custodial inspector to provide advice and monitor service provision. We created the role to be able to continuously improve the prison service and that is why, once we receive the report, we will work hard to address issues and challenges.
Under our Government, there has been considerable investment in both correctional staff and infrastructure.
Correctional Officer Recruitment processes have been occurring at an increased rate since we were elected to Government and the Tasmania Prison Service was further strengthened by the graduation of 40 new Correctional Officers back in April, bringing the total number of new Correctional Officers employed since May 2016 to 157. In addition, applications have recently closed on a further correctional officer recruitment process and we expect these new officers to commence before the end of the year.
The Tasmania Prison Service (TPS) Intervention Programs Unit offer a variety of programs, which focus on the underlying causes of offending behaviour, and provide opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration.
Our Government also expanded the range of sentencing options to keep offenders out of prison where appropriate, with the introduction of new options, including the introduction of Home Detention and Electronic Monitoring.
We also increased the Court Mandated Diversion (CMD) program participant cap from 80 participants to 120, which increased alternatives to imprisonment options.
When it comes to protecting and supporting TPS staff, let’s not forget that Labor and the Greens opposed the Government’s Mandatory Sentencing Bill, which delivers guaranteed jail time for those who assault our frontline workers, including Correctional Officers.
Labor also failed to promise one additional correctional officer at the last election, and was responsible for shutting down the Hayes Prison facility, and they have failed to support the new Northern Regional Prison.
We make no apology for being tough on crime, and we are doing everything we can to ensure the safety and well-being of all TPS staff, inmates, and visitors to the State’s correctional facilities, while providing vital opportunities for inmate rehabilitation and reintegration.