Media release
30 January 2017
Rising prison assaults a symptom

Statistics released by BOCSAR today show that years of law and order auctions and backward State bail laws have led to a prison system that is overcrowded, failing to rehabilitate inmates and just plain unsafe.

The data shows that over the last two years there has been a 37% increase in the number of assaults in jails in NSW.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“Premier Berejiklian has inherited a legacy, handed to her through years of mismanagement by both Labor and the Coalition, of expensive, dangerous and overcrowded prisons.

“Incarceration cannot become a death sentence, nor is it an excuse for people to be bashed and beaten, so climbing assault rates are a serious concern.

“Unless we want to see thousands more lives ruined and billions of dollars wasted, the Parliament needs to wind back aggressive law and order measures of the last 10 years and start by fixing the broken bail laws.

“The system is in a crisis because a series of heavy-handed laws, from bail all the way through to consorting laws, that are working to drive up our prison numbers with minimal impact on crime rates.

“Rather than build bigger private prisons, the best way of addressing overcrowding would be to fix our broken bail laws by reinstating the presumption in favour of bail. Of course that would also take political courage, and that’s why it hasn’t happened yet.

“Spending more money on new private prisons, going down the American path, is not the answer, and will ultimately make our society less safe.

“Some people’s lives start unravelling, often, very early and we need to build a fresh path for them that doesn’t end in jail.

“The long term answer to reducing prisoner numbers is investment in communities, particularly disadvantaged communities.

“It’s politicians who have the courage to redirect money from police and jails towards education and health that we need, not more private prisons,” Mr Shoebridge said.