Reports yesterday that the Andrews Labor Government will add an additional 300 beds to Ravenhall Prison via double bunking highlights the hypocrisy of Daniel Andrews on corrections.
Ravenhall Prison was initially designed to accommodate 1,000 beds with a stretch capacity to 1,300 – but will now increase to 1,600 by adding bunks to existing single cells in a practice known as “stack and rack.”
In 2015, then Labor Corrections Minister Gayle Tierney described the need to double bunk prisoners as being as a result of a “mad panic” and “failure to plan.”
Corrections Victoria has long opposed the practice of double bunking after an independent review linked it to a rise in violence between prisoners and against staff.
The decision to double bunk Ravenhall comes as recent Productivity Commission data shows the rate of serious assaults on prison officers has more than tripled in 2017-18 compared to the previous year and is at its highest level in the last decade.
Furthermore, a representative for the Community and Public Sector Union, which represents Victoria’s prison guards, stated that the “there are always increased difficulties” with double bunking and the practice “means problems for the availability of programs for prisoners.”
With prisoner access to rehabilitation services set to be cut and serious prison assaults on staff already on the rise, its little wonder why under Daniel Andrews Victoria is operating the most expensive, yet worst performing state correctional system in Australia.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Corrections, David Southwick:
“Overcrowded prisons are dangerous prisons and Labor’s decision to double bunk prisoners at Ravenhall places staff and prisoners at risk.”
“With exploding prisoner numbers, the highest cost prisons in the nation and the worst rehabilitation rates of any state – Victoria’s correctional system is failing under Daniel Andrews.”