Reports today of the significant additional costs of prisoner communications during COVID-19 is the latest example of poor management in response to COVID-19 by the Andrews Labor Government.
Whilst the broader Victorian community has been asked to follow the nations harshest lockdown restrictions at great personal cost, Victorian inmates have benefitted from a number of taxpayer-funded measures, including:
· An additional $10 per week phone call allowance, which accrues if unused and is cashed out when a prisoner is released.
· A $500,000 Corrections Victoria Zoom account to enable inmate video calls.
· Over $100,000 for the purchase of 250 Samsung tablets – a cost $80 per unit higher than market rate.
These additional expenses follow revelations that corrections staff working at quarantine hotels are receiving full pay for no work and the widespread use of emergency management days - that is days off a prisoner’s sentence, due to COVID-19 related lockdowns across Victoria’s prison system.
When Victorian prisoners are better able to communicate than those in aged care, a hospital ward or public housing facility – it’s clear the priorities of Daniel Andrews are all wrong.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Corrections, David Southwick:
“Between additional phone calls, emails, Zoom sessions and days off sentences, it seems the only ones coming out ahead from COVID-19 are Victorian prisoners.
“Under the Andrews Labor Government it’s just one botched contract after another. With the government paying above the odds for these purchases, it’s no wonder Victoria is running the most expensive prisons in the nation.
“Victorians are making huge sacrifices to our way of life during this pandemic and inmates shouldn’t be rewarded for following the same lockdown measures as the rest of us.”