Talks held in bid for 'prison study'

Thursday August 08, 2019


Published by The Border Watch

By Sandra Mirello


MEMBER for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has held talks with State Corrections Minister Corey Wingard in a bid to push for a in-depth study into prisoners’ movements. 

This follows revelations the Department for Correctional Services cannot force prisoners - released without conditions from the Mount Gambier Prison - to return to their place of residence. 

This is despite a long-standing departmental agreement that “all prisoners” are returned to their place of residence. 

The department has now conceded it has no statistics on prisoner movements and how many former inmates - who lived in other areas in the state - have made the Blue Lake city home. 

It is believed the upward trend is placing pressure on police resources and community transitional services. 

Mr Bell revealed he held talks with Mr Wingard and had also formally written a letter to the minister on the issue. 

The Independent MP has called for a study given the rapid expansion of the Moorak-based prison in recent years. 

“I would like to see a long-term study completed by the department to examine these issues more closely and provide actual 

facts and data around the release of prisoners,” Mr Bell said. 

Mr Bell campaigned heavily against the expansion of the jail during its multiple upgrades. 

The Mount Gambier Prison now has a capacity to house more than 650 prisoners, which makes it the second largest correctional facility in the state. 

According to sources, the department may provide released prisoners with a bus ticket, but they are not made to get on the bus and return home. 

But “all sex offenders” - no matter what prison they finished their sentence at - are released from the Adelaide metropolitan area, according to the department. In a statement sent to The Border Watch last week, Mr Wingward said the department assisted “all former prisoners” to return to their initial place of residence. 

“The department’s exit process is focused on the identification of strategies and community-based resources to assist the prisoner in preventing re-offending,” Mr Wingard said. 

“Such programs have won international awards and the state’s reoffending rate is one of the best in Australia and well below the national average.” 

Meanwhile, Mr Bell also discussed with Mr Wingard the possibility of a convicted sex offender being released into the Mount Gambier community. 

It is understood the convicted sex offender could be considered for parole. 

Mr Bell raised the matter with Mr Wingard following concerns flowing from residents living in the same street of the offender’s home. 

It is also understood a school is also on the same street. 

“There is a lot of concern in the community about this,” Mr Bell said. 

While the individual might not get parole, he said it was a possibility and the community needed some assurance. 

Mr Bell said Mr Wingard was looking into the matter. 

The issue of prisoner movements is expected to generate discussion at Mount Gambier City Council’s upcoming meeting.