The Greens have said the Victorian Government must act urgently to reduce the over-imprisonment of disadvantaged communities following the release of an IBAC report revealing serious, systemic corruption in the state’s prison system.
IBAC’s report found evidence of excessive use of force, inappropriate strip-searching practices and the misuse of Body Worn Cameras to conceal actions by corrections officers.
The report said this corruption had been fuelled by a rapid growth in the number of prisoners in our prison system, particularly prisoners currently on remand, leading to the recruitment of more corrections officers and an increasing reliance on privately managed prisons.
IBAC’s findings were based on investigating incidents in the Port Phillip Prison, but are consistent with the allegations made in the Commission for Children and Young People’s recent report, ‘Our youth, our way’, in relation to the actions of the police and youth justice system.
The Greens say in order to prevent this behaviour in our prisons, the government must reduce the imprisonment of over-represented communities including:
- First Nations prisoners
- Women prisoners
- Young people
- Offenders with mental illness, disability or drug addiction, who should be supported and rehabilitated outside of prison
Victorian Greens spokesperson for justice, Dr Tim Read, said it was critical the state government didn’t quietly ignore these allegations.
The Greens say the most important factor driving the doubling of our prison population over the past decade has been the changes to our bail laws and without fixing this, we can expect these problems to continue.
The report also shows the importance of IBAC and the need to fund it appropriately, something this government has been reluctant to do.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens spokesperson for justice, Dr Tim Read:
"Just two weeks ago we heard about broken bones and racist abuse of children at the hands of police. Now we are hearing findings of excessive use of force and strip searching in prisons. This is a deeply concerning pattern of behaviour.
"The tough on crime politics that has almost doubled prison numbers over a decade is fuelling corruption and abuse.
"We must reform our bail law and invest in tackling the root causes of offending behaviour – poverty, trauma and lack of social supports."