Prison commitment call for bail released

Friday September 06, 2019

Published by The Border Watch 

By Sandra Morello

MEMBER for Mount Gambier Troy Bell will seek a commitment that prisoners - released with bail conditions - are transported by the Department for Correctional Services to their court-ordered address.

Mr Bell will join Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin and the council’s chief executive officer Andrew Meddle as part of a delegation that will speak with Correctional Services Minister Corey Wingard on Tuesday.

Grant District Council will also send delegates to the round-table discussion centred on the inmate release process from the Mount Gambier Prison.

It will be the first time a high-ranking delegation will officially head to Adelaide to put the prisoner release issue under the microscope.

This follows revelations the long-standing departmental agreement - that all prisoners on release are returned to their place of residence - is not being enforced by the department.

It is understood some released prisoners are choosing not to take the bus back to Adelaide and are remaining in the Blue Lake city.

Ahead of next week’s meeting, Mr Bell told The Border Watch he wanted a commitment that released prisoners - who were required to return to a designated address under bail conditions - must be transported by the department.

He said these released inmates should not just be given a bus ticket.

“If the bail conditions stipulate they reside in Adelaide or wherever, they should be transported there by the department,” Mr Bell said.

“I want to see regulatory change to make that happen.”

He said transport movements by the corrections department occurred daily between Adelaide and Mount Gambier so this regulatory change should not come at additional cost.

The independent MP warned if this did not occur the system was “setting people up to fail.”

He said prisoners released without conditions should be free to move around the state.

Department for Correctional Services chief executive officer David Brown is also expected to be at the meeting.

Grant District Council will send deputy mayor Gill Clayfield to the meeting given a perceived conflict of interest declared by Mayor Richard Sage, who is employed at the Moorak-based prison.

Acting chief executive officer Jane Fetherstonhaugh is also expected to the attend the talkfest.

This follows council formally requesting earlier this week to be part of the delegation.

The looming delegation comes amid revelations prisoners without conditions - who have served their last part of their sentence at the Mount Gambier correctional facility - are not required to return to their place of residence.

But the department does enforce that all sex offenders are returned to Adelaide as part of their conditional release.

The department has been unable to provide any data over how many released prisoners have remained in Mount Gambier.

Moreover, the department nor the government have confirmed whether community transitional services and police resources have been increased in Mount Gambier since the prison expansions.

The Mount Gambier Prison - which houses low to medium inmates - now accommodates 630 inmates following rolling expansions at the correctional facility.