Prison Structure and Administration
There are a number of prison institutions in Tasmania.
- Risdon Prison (maximum, medium and low security)
- The Women’s Prison at Risdon
- The Wilfred Lopes Centre and other forensic mental health facilities
- Hobart Remand Centre (generally for short term remand and reception prisoners).
- The Launceston Prison (for short term remand and reception prisoners)
The Burnie Remand Centre is proclaimed as a prison but is only used on a daily basis for people attending trials in Burnie. Prisoners and detainees attending trials in Devonport and Burnie are conveyed to Launceston for overnight detention.
Prisons in this state are administered under the Corrections Act 1997 (Tas) and the Corrections Regulations 2018 (Tas). The administration of the prison is the responsibility of the Director of Corrective Services who also has the title of General Manager, Corrective Services Division. The Director is appointed by the Governor under the provisions of the Corrections Act. The Director also has the power to make Standing Orders for the management and security of prisons and for the welfare, protection and discipline of prisoners. References to sections or regulations will normally be to the Corrections Act and Regulations.
The Director in fact can exercise all of the powers under the Corrections Act, but in practice the day-to-day management of the prison system rests with the General Manager, and of individual prisons with the Managers. The actual structure of the administration is hierarchical and in many ways is similar to a military or police institution. Police officers are also vested with all of the powers of a prison officer.
Range of Prison Institutions
For the purpose of segregation, Corrective Services operates the following institutions.
- Risdon Maximum Security Prison for male inmates.
- Women’s Prison for maximum to minimum security inmates.
- Wilfred Lopes Centre for maximum to minimum security inmates.
- Risdon Medium Security Unit for medium security male inmates
- Ron Barwick Prison for minimum security male inmates.
The maximum security prison is subdivided into a number of accommodation divisions and workshops which allows segregation of inmates for protection and other particular needs. Many medium and even minimum security prisoners may spend time in this prison.
Transfers between Institutions
It is the responsibility of the General Manager to allocate inmates to prisons after they have been classified. There are many reasons why transfer to a lower level of security may not occur immediately after classification.
It is sometimes necessary for inmates to be held in an institution of a higher security rating whilst waiting for a vacancy in a lower level or if particular programs in which they are enrolled are only available in that institution. Another example could be that an inmate may be completing medical treatment which is only available under close supervision of the Prison Hospital. Transfer will normally take place as soon as all the necessary conditions have been met.
Medical Treatment and Examination
The prison is obliged to supply, at public expense, such medical attendance and treatment as is necessary for the preservation of health. In practice, this means an attendance of a doctor at the prison hospital. A prisoner cannot obtain treatment by a doctor of their own choosing, or at their own expense.
The Corrections Act and Corrections Regulations allow a person nominated by the Director to “cause food to be fed to a prisoner or detainee” where a medical officer certifies in writing that the prisoners failure to eat is endangering the life and health of the prisoner (Reg 10).
A prisoner or detainee is entitled to use the prison library at least once a week. It has not been determined by the Courts as to whether this is counted as a privilege which can be withdrawn although it is treated as such.
Prisoners are permitted, as a privilege, to keep a radio and/or television receiver within their cells. These privileges can be withdrawn. The male prison has a debating group, football and cricket teams who compete against outside organisations, together with a range of other sporting activities. Some sports equipment (for example, nets, volleyball, table tennis) is available.
A range of educational classes is also available (such as literacy classes, arts and craft, etc.). Prisoners can also sometimes study for secondary or tertiary qualifications by doing correspondence courses.
A prisoner must do work suitable to their physical and intellectual capacity (s33). Prisoners must be paid for work at a rate determined by the Director. At present prisoners are paid in accordance with a graded scale that begins at $5.00 per week and ends at $44.00 per week not cewrnot Nofor inmates employed in certain positions. There are numerous employments available.
Earnings from work can be:
- allocated to dependants;
- used for the purchase of necessities;
- used for the purchase of clothing and other items immediately before release;
- used to pay for educational expenses;
- used to pay for special medical or dental treatment not payable from public moneys.
The Act says that money can also be used to satisfy ‘judgment debts’ (s34(3)).
A ‘detainee’ is not obliged to work but may be allowed to do so if they request it.
Work in the male prison is varied. There is a metal and woodwork shop (where some training is given), a paint shop, bakery, kitchen and laundry. There is provision for the employment of an industrial supervisor and trade instructors.
The Prisoners (Interstate Transfer) Act 1982 (Tas) permits the transfer of prisoners to or from another State. A prisoner may be transferred on welfare grounds or legal grounds. There is no appeal against a refusal to transfer on welfare grounds. A decision is not reviewable by a court or tribunal. A request need not be considered if it is made within one year after a similar request was made by the prisoner. Parole and prison reports form a significant part of the formulation of the opinion.
A similar provision exists in relation to a prisoner who is the subject of an arrest warrant issued in another state. The procedure whereby prisoners, and other persons, are transferred in these circumstances is known as ‘extradition’.