6 Aug 2009

Less work for prisoners in recession

3:11 pm on 6 August 2009

A union for prison guards says the recession is having a negative effect on prisoner employment.

Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon says the economic downturn has caused the Corrections Department to cut back on prison training and employment.

He says some prison officers responsible for taking inmates out to work are losing their jobs because there are fewer work opportunities for prisoners.

However, Mr Hanlon says there is also a positive effect because guards can be more selective about which prisoners to take on work parties, and this could be why escapes from prisons are at an all-time low.

The Corrections Department denies Mr Hanlon's claims about decreased prisoner employment.

Fewer prisoners escaping

Corrections Department figures show that in the 12 months to the end of June there were 12 escapes, compared with 23 in the 2007/08 year.

The majority of escapes last year were walk-away escapes, when low-security prisoners leave their place of supervision, such as a work gang or a prison farm.

Corrections Department assistant general manager for prison services Leanne Field says there has been a review of prisoners' eligibility for work parties.

She says the department is also examining its security classification system, to ensure it adequately measures a prisoner's escape risk.