A just and fair prison system: Principles or profit? Alternative formats available on request to PIAC - Contact PIAC
PIAC believes that there are basic public interest principles that should guide policy and program development in relation to corrective services. These are the maintenance of substantive equality; the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights; equitable standards of health care, the primary goal of rehabilitation and public accountability.PIAC has significant concerns that these principles will be undermined by further privatisation of prisons and prison services, including health services, in NSW. These concerns derive from the experience of Junee private prison in NSW and the evidence from privatisation of prisons in other Australian states and overseas.PIAC is concerned that, if further NSW prisons are privatised, on this evidence, there will be a diminution of existing programs aimed at disadvantaged groups and focussed on rehabilitation. PIAC also fears a decline in health standards if Justice Health does not provide health services to all NSW prisons. PIAC is concerned that that a private providers’ overriding duty to its shareholders to maximise profit will mean that adequate resources are not provided in all these areas.PIAC submits that international human rights standards should be included in NSW legislation governing corrective services. PIAC is particularly concerned that it is not possible to reconcile the continuation of prison industries in private prisons and Australia’s obligations under ILO Convention 29 that prohibits forced labour for private gain outside the direct scrutiny of the state.PIAC is also concerned about the lessening of accountability of private prisons, particularly where contractual obligations of private prison operators are not publicly available because they are ‘commercial in confidence’. PIAC also notes that, in the United States in particular, there can be said to be a ‘prison-industrial complex’ which has led to diminished accountability and in some instances, corrupt practices.