Criminologist urges rethink on prisoner reintegration

May 16, 2017

Criminologist Guy Hall is calling for Wandoo Prison to continue operations.

A Murdoch University criminology expert has entered the debate over plans to turn a jail into a drug rehabilitation prison.

Associate Professor Guy Hall has more than 40 years’ experience in the correctional field.

He believes that the WA Labor party’s future plans for Wandoo Prison, located in Murdoch, 20 minutes south of Perth, are a cause for concern.

“While a drug rehabilitation prison might seem like a sound idea, it is vital that Wandoo continues to operate as a reintegration prison,” Professor Hall said.

Wandoo provides the only reintegration facility for young prisoners in Western Australia, and Professor Hall believes reintegration services are critical to the reduction of crime in the community.

“Earlier this year, the Inspector of Custodial Services praised Wandoo as a success in its own right, that it offers some positive lessons for the State’s other prison,” Professor Hall said.

“Over its five years of operation, Wandoo Prison has demonstrated that reintegration facilities are a useful tool in combating crime.

“Closing this facility will mean that Western Australia loses an extremely well run prison, but perhaps even more importantly, we also lose the ability to help young offenders successfully return to the community and move on to a path of good citizenship.”

Professor Hall outlined the reasons for Wandoo’s success: “Prisoners are provided with a range of services while still in prison so that they can build up community and family based support including accommodation, education and training, and employment.

“It is obvious that letting prisoners out without this support is not helpful in reducing crime in our community.”

Professor Hall said he believes the Government should not take an either/or approach to a drug rehabilitation prison or a reintegration prison.

“What we need in our prison system is a variety of different institutions which cater for the different needs of prisoners,” he said.

“Mr McGowan’s commitment to a rehabilitation prison is an excellent step toward recognising that one of the most effective ways of combating crime is to help offenders.

“It is certainly much more effective than locking up people, giving them little by way of specialist services and providing limited reintegration support.

“I am pleased to see the Government is tackling crime through treatment, but this current proposal comes at the cost of a very necessary and useful crime reduction strategy.”

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