2010 - Estimates Committee B (McKim) - Part 1
Nick McKim MP, Minister
for Human Services, Minister for Corrections and Consumer Protection,
Minister for Community Development, Minister for Climate Change,
Minister for Sustainable Transport and Alternative Energy
O'Connor MP, Secretary to
Stevens, Deputy Secretary
Director of Prisons
Batt, Director, Office of
Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading
of Premier and Cabinet
Evans, Director, Policy
and Programs, Program Development Unit
Director, Office of Climate Change
Jansen, Assistant Policy
JUSTICE SYSTEM & FRONTLINE SERVICES
FINCH - Minister, on
Monday the minister for youth justice talked about the cost
effectiveness of an efficient youth justice system in keeping people
out of Risdon. Do you have a figure on those who have spent
time at Ashley who make their way through to Risdon?
McKIM - I certainly do
not have it here. What sort of figures would you be talking
about - the number of people who have spent time in Ashley and then
find themselves in our prisons?
FINCH - Yes.
McKIM - Are you just
asking about Risdon or our custodial institutions or Corrective
Services generally because there are different categories?
FINCH - Let us talk about
Risdon specifically because that is the high end, or the low end, of
where they are going. That is probably the maximum stage that
they are going to get to in respect of their downward spiral from a
place like Ashley. I just want to get some sort of figure to
get an understanding of whether that can be corrected and focused on.
McKIM - So what you are
asking, Mr Finch, as I understand it, is for the number of people who
have spent time in Ashley that then have found themselves in Risdon.
FINCH - Yes.
McKIM - So that is
maximum and medium?
FINCH - Yes, of your 466
that you are suggesting you have now.
McKIM - Well, the number
I gave earlier is across all of our custodial institutions so it
would include Risdon, Ron Barwick, Hayes, Hobart Reception and
FINCH - Okay. If
the figures are available across the board I would be happy to be
provided with them.
McKIM - This would
require a level of interagency discussion. Ashley is not run by
the Department of Justice; it is run by DHHS. As that is not
something that is under my control, what I am happy to do is to ask
whether DHHS would be prepared to make those figures available and to
provide some advice to the committee about whether or not we can
provide those figures. I am unable to give a guarantee to you
now that we can find those figures because the DHHS numbers are
simply not within my authority.
- Minister, we will wait for you to get back to us on that. Mr
Finch, do you have a question in relation to prison services as we
need to get on to Corrections.
FINCH - Page 7.18.
McKIM - Are you on a
table there, Mr Finch?
FINCH - Table 7.13.
Note 1 talks about Frontline Services. The increase in the
Prison Services and Community Corrective Services outputs primarily
affects additional funding for Frontline Services. What I would
probably like is an explanation of these services and an idea of
their effectiveness as well, or the hope of their effectiveness.
McKIM - Frontline
services in this context, effectively across the board, are funds for
running our prisons and running Community Corrections where, again,
that is regarded as frontline services.
FINCH - Okay, so that is
not a new reference or a new terminology that has been included just
in this Budget.
McKIM - That is correct.
FINCH - So that is what
it is referred to as. In the operation of the prison, you call
them frontline services.
McKIM - It is only to
meet our operational costs, in effect, the operational costs of
running our custodial institutions and also running Community
FINCH - Thank you.
I wanted to check to make sure because that is terminology that I
have not heard before.
HUTTON - Small 'f', small
McKIM - It has capitals
there but -
HUTTON - Yes, we can
blame Treasury for that.
FINCH - Page 7.19, table
714; we talked about the recidivism rate being fairly steady at about
23 per cent. I am wondering whether we could get the
actual number in prison now compared to in the year 2000 who are
recidivists. You made a reference earlier to Mr Hodgman and his
references to recidivism and I am wondering whether this opens the
opportunity for you to go down that path.
McKIM - It does. I
make the point that the issue around recidivism rates is very complex
statistically because you need to make a certain series of
assumptions before you can deliver statistics of any value. One
of the major value judgments that you need to make is what period of
time you want to allow to elapse in the calculation of a recidivism
rate. In other words, is it whether someone reoffends and
returns to prison within six months, two years, five years, 10 years;
what is that period of time?
FINCH - The performance
measure taken here is two years.
McKIM - Yes, that is
right. The performance measure there is two years. That
is very true but also there are complexities around is it return of
prisoners to prison or is it return of prisoners to Corrective
Services more generally which might include Community Corrections, so
there are a number of different categories of recidivism.
on the Federal Government's report on government services, of the
prisoners released in 2006-07, 36.4 per cent have returned to prison
within two years. This is below the national average of 39.3
per cent. People who have been released from prison in 2006-07
and returned to Corrective Services - either prison or Community
Corrections - within two years is 44.4 per cent and that is just
below the national average of 44.6 per cent. Of offenders
discharged from Community Corrections in 2006-07 within two years,
14.1 per cent returned to Community Corrections which is lower again
than the national average of 17.8 per cent, and of offenders
discharged from Community Corrections and returning to Corrective
Services - either Community Corrections or custodial institutions -
within two years, 20.1 per cent which is significantly lower than the
national average of 27.8 per cent. On the four main recidivism
measures we are lower than the national average on every measure.
FINCH - Does that mean in
Tasmania we focus more on that work of trying to support those
prisoners who go back into mainstream life to not reoffend?
McKIM - Certainly driving
the recidivism rate down has been a focus of Corrective Services for
a long time and it will remain a strong focus and it is one of the
things I would like to focus on. The way that we do that is
part of the Breaking the Cycle discussion paper but in broad terms,
reducing the recidivism rate is about education, it is about
programs, some of which I have mentioned already this morning.
It is about making sure that reintegration into our community is
properly managed and delivered to people and it is also about making
sure we have good programs in Community Corrections. As I have
indicated, we have extra money in this year's budget that will
actually deliver some increased programs in Community Corrections,
which I am happy to talk about when we get to that part.
FINCH - We have seen the
number of females in prison in Victoria has increased markedly
recently - that was the story in the Age
this month. Is this trend reflected in Tasmania and if it is,
would you be concerned?
McKIM - Ultimately the
number of prisoners is not really a matter that falls within my
portfolio. One of my jobs is to run the Corrections system in
Tasmania and there are a range of factors varying from cultural to
sentencing practices that go to influence the number of prisoners we
have and also the relative gender balance of those prisoners.
And as pointed out by Ms Hutton, we are not aiming for gender balance
in Tasmania's prison system.
McKIM - I can tell you
that in 2007-08 the female population in the prison system was 37; in
2008-09 it was 36 so there is no trend I can identify of any
significant increase. In fact the number of female prisoners is