MS PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:35:24):
My question is for the Minister for Corrections, represented in this house by Minister Symes. In Victoria about 54 per cent of prisoners reoffend and 45 per cent return to prison within two years, which is a staggering rate of reoffending.
It is well understood that community safety is best protected by reducing reoffending; however, outmoded sanctions continue to be employed in our prison system that work directly against this goal.
Solitary confinement of up to 22 hours per day, with little meaningful human contact or access to programs or activities, continues to be utilised in our jails and can cause irreversible physical and mental harm, which, it turns out, increases the prospect of reoffending.
My question is: what steps is the minister taking to reduce the use of solitary confinement or create a presumption against solitary confinement in our prison system?
Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Resources) (12:36):
I thank Ms Patten for her question, and I will certainly direct that question to the relevant minister, Mr Carroll, who is also very focused on wanting to reduce reoffending and recidivism rates in the state of Victoria
MS PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:36:42):
Thank you, Minister. I appreciate you passing that on. Research also shows that prisoners who maintain a connection with the outside world are less likely to reoffend.
Family is central to this, yet one of the first sanctions employed in our corrections system is the withdrawal of prisoner visitation rights, which again cuts directly against the goal of reducing reoffending.
So my supplementary question for the minister is: why do prisoner visitation rights continue to be effected as a sanction when this can increase the prospect of reoffending?
Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Resources) (12:37):
I thank Ms Patten for her supplementary question. I am sure the minister will be happy to respond to that. As he has just been texting me, he knows both the questions you have asked today, so you might get them pretty quickly.