Wednesday 21 September 2016
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Risdon Prison - Numbers of Male Prisoners


[2.30 p.m.]

  1. What is the cost of keeping a male prisoner in Risdon for one year?

  2. What is the current number of male prisoners in Risdon?

  3. What was the male prison population in September 2010?


Mr President, I thank the member for Rosevears for his question. 

The Tasmania Prison Service cannot separate costs for male and female prisoners or break down costs for individual prison facilities.  The cost per prisoner per day for 2015-16 was $311.87, excluding health costs.
There are currently 524 male prisoners in the custody of the Tasmania Prison Service.  Of the 524 male prisoners in the custody of the Tasmania Prison Service, 485 are accommodated at facilities on the Risdon Prison site, including 287 at the Risdon Prison Complex and 198 at the Ron Barwick Minimum Security Prison.

The statewide male prisoner population as at 1 September 2010 was 455, excluding prisoners accommodated as patients at the Wilfred Lopes Centre.  Of the 455 male prisoners in custody at that time, 340 were accommodated in facilities on the Risdon Prison site, 215 at Risdon Prison Complex, and 125 at the Ron Barwick Minimum Security Prison.  It should be noted that Hayes Prison Farm was still operational at that time, accommodating a further 53 male prisoners. 

The prison population fluctuates on a daily basis and tends to peak at certain times of the year.  It is desirable that persons in the justice system be sentenced as expeditiously as possible whilst ensuring proper processes are followed and the integrity of the justice system is maintained.  The changes in the number of remandees cannot easily be linked to any single factor.  These changes may be attributable to the normal fluctuations in the broader justice and enforcement systems and processes.  The Department of Justice is investigating the potential drivers behind this increase. 

Legislation tabled last week was the first legislative step in delivering on the Government's election commitment to progressively phase out suspended sentences of imprisonment and increase the range of sentencing options available to address criminal behaviour in Tasmania.  The Government has released a five-year implementation plan outlining when the new options will be introduced and the phasing out of suspended sentences will be commenced.  The first of these new sentencing options is extending drug treatment orders to the Supreme Court and providing the courts with the ability to defer sentencing so that an offender is accountable for demonstrating genuine efforts to rehabilitate to the court prior to sentencing.

The new sentencing model to be adopted by the Liberal Government reflects a clear expectation that prison is an appropriate sentence for serious and violent offenders, where community protection is a key consideration, while non-custodial alternatives should be utilised for those offenders who do not pose the same level of risk and have good prospects for rehabilitation.

Our five-year implementation plan will ensure stronger and more effective sentencing that will better protect the community, better rehabilitate offenders, properly reflect the gravity of the crime committed and restore faith in the justice system.