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A new era of prisons in Victoria

September 24, 2013

The Victorian Liberal-National Coalition government has a strong law and order agenda, and the most recent announcement of an expansion of the planned Ravenhall Prison in Melbourne’s West in further confirmation of this. Originally planned as a 500 bed male prison with opportunity for expansion, it will now be built as a 1000 bed prison, and when completed in 2017 will be one of Australia’s largest.

There has been increasing consternation regarding prison overcrowding, with some prison insiders identifying this as a significant issue in a recent ABC report, and with reports of the use of fold-out beds and and the possibility that prisoners might be housed in caravans as possible temporary fixes to the overcrowding issue. Victoria Police has expressed concern about the housing of prisoners in police station cells.

The Victorian Auditor General presented a report to Parliament in November 2012 regarding prison capacity in Victoria, noting that “by 2016 the male and female prison systems will not have sufficient capacity to meet increases in prisoner numbers”.

The key question is, of course, whether building new prisons is the answer to addressing crime in Victoria – or are there smarter ways of making our community safer. Perhaps now is the time to actively consider the benefits of justice reinvestment, an approach adopted in the state of Texas which has actually seen a prison closed.

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From → Prisons

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