Questions Without Notice: Ravenhall prison project | Sue Pennicuik

Questions Without Notice: Ravenhall prison project

My question is for the Minister for Corrections, and it relates to the Ravenhall correctional facility, which opened last month. On 8 September I raised with the minister in question time the issue of double-bunking at Loddon Prison and whether the government had a time line for eliminating it in accordance with Corrections Victoria standards, which recommend single-cell accommodation.
Friday, November 3, 2017 - 9:15am
Speaker:
Sue Pennicuik

Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) (12:23:39) — My question is for the Minister for Corrections, and it relates to the Ravenhall correctional facility, which opened last month. On 8 September I raised with the minister in question time the issue of double-bunking at Loddon Prison and whether the government had a time line for eliminating it in accordance with Corrections Victoria standards, which recommend single-cell accommodation. The minister, in a written response to me, advised that 30 per cent of male prisoners are in double-bunk cells, that the government is addressing this growth through investment in expanding amenities, that the opening of the Ravenhall correctional facility this year will provide further capacity in the prison system and that Corrections continue to assess and allocate all prisoners to the most appropriate prison. When the new prison opened, I saw footage on TV of cells with double-bunks. I was surprised to see that, so my question is: how many and what percentage of cells in the new Ravenhall correctional facility have double-bunks?

Ms TIERNEY (Minister for Corrections) (12:24:39) — Thank you, Ms Pennicuik, for that question. I think you would agree that in terms of prison capacity, with Ravenhall coming onstream and prisoners being gradually decanted into that facility later this month, it is a good thing and that it will reduce the pressure in the system. The fact of the matter is that there will be a scheduled and planned shift of prisoners from certain locations in Victoria to Ravenhall. I know that that will be over a period of time and Corrections Victoria will be managing that very closely. In terms of the actual number that you are seeking, I do not have that on me at the moment, but I am more than happy to provide that to you.

Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) (12:25:42) — Thank you, Minister, for your answer. With regard to the supplementary question, I mentioned that in your previous answer you said 30 per cent of male prisoners are in double-bunk cells, so when you provide the follow-up as to the number and percentage in the Ravenhall facility, could you tell me whether that changes that. The tenor of the answer you gave me was really that the government was moving towards the standard of Corrections Victoria to move out of double-bunking, so I was surprised to see that a new facility was actually built with double-bunks in place, so my supplementary question would be, particularly with regard to remand prisoners and the Walshe report, whether the intention is to remove double-bunking entirely from the Ravenhall correctional facility?

Ms TIERNEY (Minister for Corrections) (12:26:41) — I thank the member for her question. It is the intention of this government to reduce the pressure of the capacity issues that we have. Ravenhall, to a certain extent, will assist that. There are also some additional beds that have come onstream from another existing prison as well, and there are further discussions that government is having. There has been a lot of work done in Corrections Victoria and a lot of work liaising with the courts, the department and of course Victoria Police as well in terms of the flow-on aspects of any resource allocation. What I can say to you, Ms Pennicuik, is that it is in all of our interests to have a prison system that has a population in accommodation that is stable and enables a greater chance of rehabilitation, a greater chance for people to undertake programs and a greater chance to undertake skills and training that is available on site.

Written response on 16 November 2017:

RESPONSE TO SUBSTANTIVE QUESTION:

I was pleased to recently open the Ravenhall Correctional Centre, Victoria's newest prison. Initially it will securely hold 1000 prisoners but has built capacity for 1300 prisoners should this be required in the future.

There are no double bunks at Ravenhall Correctional Centre. However, prisoners can be accommodated in dual-occupancy cells. The dual occupancy cells at Ravenhall have a larger floor plan than single cells and have, with the exception of the toilet and shower, two of everything: single beds on the floor, desks, storage/cupboard space and TVs.

To distinguish dual-occupancy cells from a cell with double bunks, a dual-occupancy cell will at the point of construction, have been designed to accommodate two prisoners.