PRISON INFORMATION FOR NSW
By Sebastian De Brennan, Lawyer, 2016. Email: email@example.com
Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide a summary and general overview only. It is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, legal advice. You should seek legal advice from a barrister or solicitor working in the area of criminal law or human rights law before acting or relying on any of its content.
Anyone working in the criminal law has the unfortunate task of having to explain to the accused’s family and loved ones what is to happen to the accused if he or she is sent to gaol/jail.
The chief legislation dealing with prisoners and prisons is:
(1) The Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 (NSW); and
(2) The Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Regulation 2008 (NSW).
If someone is refused bail, they are generally placed on “remand” before they are sent to a full time prison. In Sydney, this is likely to be the Metropolitan Remand & Reception Centre (MRRC) at Silverwater. Under prison regulations, prisoners are classified. Categories C1, C2 and C3 are given to low risk offenders. Medium risk offenders are generally Category B. High risk categories include AA, A1 and A2 for males. Different classification systems pertain to females.
After six months, these classifications are reviewed by relevant personnel from within the correctional facility. In certain circumstances, prisoners may be placed on “protection” or be segregated. This can be tough on prisoners as they have less interaction with other prisoners as well as opportunities such as employment and access to sporting facilities.
Under the new Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Amendment (National Security Interest Inmates) Regulation 2015 (NSW), the Commissioner of Corrective Services can now designate ‘national security inmates’. The Regulation provides for this designation where the Commissioner is of the opinion that a particular inmate may engage in, or incite others to engage in, activities that constitute a serious threat to the peace, order or good government of the State or any other place. A ‘national security inmate’ has significantly limited rights to visitors, receive letters or packages, use a language other than English or request to speak to the Minister, Commissioner or the Official Visitor (an official tasked with monitoring conditions in NSW jails).
Can I access education in prison/gaol/jail?
Many correctional centres and facilities provide a variety of courses. In certain situations, inmates can be given access to correspondence courses through TAFE and Universities. I have recently had one client who has completed multiple degrees with honours and awards while in prison.
Can I get access to employment?
Yes, it is often possible for inmates to obtain work whilst in custody. This can include jobs cleaning the grounds of a correctional facility e.g. sweeping, painting as well as manufacturing roles. Some of these jobs are paid in the sense that a very modest income is provided.
Contact with families
Prisoners have a phone register. On this they can put the names and telephone numbers of people that they need to be in contact with e.g. family members and lawyers. Phone cards can be used to contact these people. In addition, De Brennan Tomlinson Pearce Lawyers regularly liase with prison authorities and Welfare Officers to ensure that important messages are passed on to inmates and to ensure that the inmate’s experience is as positive as can be expected in the circumstances.
Visiting a loved one in prison
Prisoners on “remand” are generally entitled to two visits from family and friends per week. Prisoners not on remand are ordinarily allowed one visit. Obviously it is important for visitors to check with the relevant correctional centre how often, and on what days, visits can take place. Experience shows that it is best for visitors to call the prison or correctional centre in advance to book and confirm an appointment. We have heard of many examples – and have experienced firsthand – prison visits being cancelled because a prison is in “lock down” (e.g. where there is a riot or disturbance in the gaol/jail) or strikes or industrial action were taking place so that normal visits could not occur.
Leaving gifts and money for loved ones
Subject to the policy of the prison, items such as books, magazines and other personal items can be given to inmates. Money (generally a maximum of $100 per week) can be deposited at the relevant correctional centre during set times. Be sure to obtain a receipt so that there can be no dispute that the money was deposited into the prisoner’s account.
Concerns about the treatment of a prisoner?
Article 10(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires that ‘all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person’.
Unfortunately, mistreatment of prisoners does happen. In the first instance, many problems can be resolved with the Governor or General Manager of the prison. In certain matters, the following bodies can be approached;
(1) The Inspector-General of Corrective Services.
(2) NSW Ombudsman.
(3) Prisoner’s Aid Association of NSW.
Finally, in appropriate circumstances, it may be appropriate for a lawyer to bring legal action or proceedings against the institutions concerned.
Preparing individuals and family members for release from gaol/jail
There are a number of publications (and even DVDs) which are of assistance to prisoners and their families during the term of a custodial sentence. Publications are also available that aim to promote the successful return and reintegration to the community by offenders. These can be provided on request.
List of NSW Correctional Centres
1 Old Bathurst Road
Emu Plains NSW 2750
Phone: (02) 4735 0254
Cnr Browning Street and Brookmore Avenue
Bathurst NSW 2795
Phone: (02) 6338 3282
The Arthur Hall Way VC
Coolabah – Brewarrina NSW 2839
Phone: (02) 6874 4717
109 Gossan Street
Broken Hill NSW 2880
Phone: (08) 8082 6000
Cessnock NSW 2325
Phone: (02) 4993 2333
66 Sentry Drive
Parklea NSW 2768
Phone: (02) 9678 4171
1 Vale Street
Cooma NSW 2630
Phone: (02) 6455 0333
Sverwater NSW 2128
Phone: (02) 9289 5339
The Northern Road
South Windsor NSW 2756
Phone: (02) 4582 2222
Old Bathurst Road
Emu Plains NSW 2750
Phone: (02) 4735 0200
Glen Innes NSW 2370
Phone: (02) 6730 0000
Goulburn NSW 2580
Phone: (02) 4827 2222
170 Hoof Street
Grafton NSW 2460
Phone: (02) 6642 0340
33 Mitchell Street
Ivanhoe NSW 2878
Phone: (02) 6995 1403
The Northern Road
Berkshire Park NSW 2756
Phone: (02) 4582 2222
197 Park Lane
Junee NSW 2663
Phone: (02) 6924 3222
Central Coast Highway
Kariong NSW 2250
Phone: (02) 4340 3400
596 Great Western Highway
Marrangaroo NSW 2790
Phone: (02) 6350 2222
1300 Anzac Parade
Matraville NSW 2036
Phone: (02) 8304 2000
3506 Jingellic Road
Mannus NSW 2653
Phone: (02) 6941 0333
Silverwater NSW 2128
Phone: (02) 9289 5600
110 Gurnang Road
Shooters Hill via Oberon NSW 2787
Phone: (02) 6335 5248
370 Aldavilla Road
Aldavilla NSW 2440
Phone: (02) 6560 2700
66 Sentry Drive
Parklea NSW 2768
Phone: (02) 9678 4888
Silverwater NSW 2128
Phone: (02) 9289 5100
55 The Links Road
Nowra Hill NSW 2541
Phone: (02) 4424 6000
Sandy Creek Road
Muswellbrook NSW 2333
Phone: (02) 6542 4300
Cnr Dean and Johnston Street
Tamworth NSW 2340
Phone: (02) 6766 4977
Wellington NSW 2820
Phone: (020 6840 2800
Community Restorative Centres
Community Restorative Centre Inc. (CRC) is an independent community organisation that provides practical and emotional support to those affected by the criminal justice system. Recognising the need to reduce crime and the impact of incarceration on individuals and the broader community, CRC provides targeted services and projects in partnership with other organisations for prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their family and friends.
There is a wide range of support services provided by CRC to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families and friends. These services tackle systemic issues of incarceration including drug and alcohol dependence, homelessness, and unemployment. CRC works with the individual, their families and their communities to develop their skills, build stable and independent lives, and assist via advocacy and referral services with crisis matters such as financial assistance, mediation, and emergency accommodation.
Particular services provided by CRC include:
Court Support Scheme
This scheme is available for defendants, witnesses, and victims of crime, as well as the friends and families of those attending court. Volunteers provide free information on court procedure, information on sources for legal assistance, as well as emotional support and referral to other relevant services. This service does not include the provision of legal advice.
The CRC Court Support Scheme operates in the following Local Courts:
The Family Caseworker is a free service providing information, referral, counselling, subsidised transport, advice and advocacy support to the support group (families and friends) of prisoners and ex-prisoners.
The Accommodation Support service provides support to those who have had contact with the criminal justice system and have been diagnosed with an intellectual disability. This is facilitated through support in the transition from custody, maintenance of secure accommodation, establishment of supporting networks, and development of independent living skills.
The Jailbreak Health Project provides information on criminal, prison and health issues through a weekly half-hour radio program for prisoners, their families and supporters. It focuses on reducing the risk of the transmission of HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmissible Infections, as well as raising community awareness about prison. This program is broadcast each Tuesday from 6.30 to 7.00pm on 2SER107.3FM in Sydney.
Housing and Support
The Targeted Housing and Support Service provides a free casework service to females who are at risk of homelessness, have dependents and/or intellectual disabilities, substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Sentenced prisoners from Dillwynia, Emu Plains and Berrima Correctional Centres must be referred via Probation and Parole staff a minimum of three months prior to release to engage the programs services.
Hunter Newcastle Outreach
This program provides drop in support as well as tailored support packages to referrals by Ageing Disability and Homecare who have had contact with the criminal justice system and have been diagnosed with an intellectual disability.
The Drop in Support package entitles clients to receive 35 hours per week of direct support whereas the Tailored Support Packages provide 50-70 hours per week as required. This is facilitated through intensive case management and addressing issues that mirror those listed above under Accommodation Support.
Training sessions are run by CRC to benefit those working with families of prisoners as well as those working with people following their release from correctional centres. It is of particular benefit to those providing family services, community legal centres, accommodation services, neighbourhood centres, drug and alcohol services, mental health services, employment services, Indigenous agencies, as well as NSW Government Department employees (e.g. Centrelink, Housing NSW and NSW Police).
Transitional Alcohol and Other Drugs Project
This project provides outreach counselling to address barriers to accessing drug and alcohol services, particularly those with criminal justice histories in conjunction with mental illness and/or cognitive impairment. This service requires a referral and AOD workers will meet with clients one month prior to their release in order to identify post release alcohol and other drugs issues they may face. They will receive continued support for three months in order to link the individual with relevant services.
The Transitional Support Program is a case management service provided to men and women transitioning from prison back into their community. This is conducted three months prior to release to identify the particular needs of individuals including: accommodation, employment, welfare, drug and alcohol issues, financial debt, relationships, and adjustment.
Information and Referral
CRC provides information, advocacy and referral service over the phone for those in crisis. This may include assistance with referral for emergency accommodation, financial assistance, advocacy and counselling services. As assistance is available via telephone only, there is no ongoing caseworker provided.
Should you require any assistance with the above issues please do not hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org