- Slides: 14
Locked in Tasmania’s Guantanamo - the Risdon Prison behaviour management program - an Expert Witness report Adjunct Professor Peter Norden AO Australian & New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference Hobart December 2016
Overview: This presentation outlines the conditions in which Prisoner X was held in the Tamar Unit “behaviour management program” of Risdon Prison in Hobart, Tasmania. The prisoner was held in this isolation regime from 25 th October 2006 to 21 st February 2011.
Behaviour Management Program…. . - a maximum of four telephone calls per week - one non-contact visit per week - access to a small yard one hour per day - only one book or magazine or newspaper or tape - no art or hobby material - no canteen purchases - recreational activities limited to a deck of cards - no employment opportunities - electrical appliances limited to a television (conditional) - no association with other prisoners - handcuffing during any movement outside of the cell
What are the key issues to be considered? - what are the stated purposes of the BMP? - is the regime likely to achieve them? - what impact is it likely to have on inmates - what changes could be made to improve? The Expert Witness was engaged by Freehills Solicitors on behalf of Prisoner X. The report was completed in Dec 2010.
High Security Prison Isolation Regimes: Who designs these prison regimes? Have they any appreciation of what impact it has on prisoners placed there? Think about 23 hours a day in a bathroom size room, with one book, and no contacts. What might be the outcome of living long term in this type of isolation regime?
Port Arthur Prison Regime, early 19 th Century: - we examine this as a purely historical tour Pentridge Prison’s H-Division until 1996: - physical brutality turned bike thieves to murderers Guantanamo Bay Human Rights Watch Report 2008: - at that time 270 prisoners remained after 6 years… - are allowed out of their cells for TWO hours a day - not in solitary because they can yell at each other - allowed only the Koran and a single book to read
Conclusion of Expert Witness: The Risdon Prison BMP was in effect a punishment and control unit not a behaviour management unit. “Given the lack of professional psychological input into the development of the BMP I have formed the conclusion that it has the capacity for causing serious mental health damage to long term inmates and prison staff who work there”.
Conclusions continued: “I have come to the conclusion that this type of regime, based largely on solitary confinement and restricted privileges, runs contrary to two of the primary goals of any imprisonment regime, namely rehabilitation and social reintegration. It is not clear how the BMP addresses behaviour management change and return to mainstream prison life, much less preparation for release”.
Conclusions continued…. . “Based on the absence of independent reviews… I formed the conclusion that the management of the BMP operates within a ‘closed shop’ environment, which may have serious implications for the human rights responsibilities of the Risdon Prison management and the Tasmanian Government”.
Recommendations: “Where it is absolutely necessary to hold extremely dangerous or uncooperative prisoners in separation from others, there should be ongoing and independent assessment of the impact of that isolation. Given their isolation, they should be afforded increased rather than decreased in-cell provisions, access to programs, and contact with family, friends and correctional staff”.
Professional Assessment: “Despite substantial resources assigned to such regimes, it is difficult to prove that the imposition of controls on movement, social interaction and social contact within a maximum security segregation unit produces any positive effects for the inmates, the custodial staff, the prison or the wider society”.
Professional Assessment: “It is my view that the BMP cannot successfully achieve its stated objectives. Its continued operation in the present form reflects practice out of keeping with the Standard Guidelines for Corrections in Australia and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners”.
Tasmanian Supreme Court Determination: Section 4 C of the Corrections Act 1997: “services and procedures should be fair, equitable and have due regard to personal dignity and individuality, as far as is consistent with the need for appropriate levels of security and control”. Section 29 of the Correctons Act 1997: “that every prisoner has the right to be provided with information about the rules and conditions which will govern the prisoner’s behaviour in custody”.
Tasmanian Supreme Court Determination: “That the way in which the Behaviour Management Program in the Tamar Unit of the Risdon Prison Complex was applied to the Plaintiff by the Defendant between 2006 and 2011 was in contravention of the provisions of s 4 and s 29 of the Corrections Act 1997 and accordingly was in breach of the Defendant’s duty of care to the Plaintiff” Wood J, 20 April 2011.