The Bandyup Action Group or BAG is a sub-committee of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee WA Inc, the Bandyup Action Group comprises of concerned members of the community who are dedicated to addressing the issue of women’s imprisonment. We stand with all women in prison, all people affected by involvement in the criminal "justice" system and those that have experienced interpersonal violence and violence by the State.
The time for change is now! We must stop regarding female prisoners as “prisoners who happen to be women” and start acknowledging the unique needs and issues that women face.
- since 2008 the number of women in WA’s prisons has grown by 79% - an increase proportionately higher than that of men
- in 2013, one-third of women who entered prison did so solely for the purpose of clearing fines. We strongly believe that locking people up for being poor must stop.
- Aboriginal women are severely over-represented in prison, accounting for approx. half of the female prison population
- women commit fewer and less serious offences than men however tend to receive harsher penalties than men
- In WA there are less options for women to serve community based orders than there are for men
- 90% of women in prison have experienced physical or sexual abuse and prisons are under-resourced to deal with such issues which means women are left to suffer the effects of violence which is then exacerbated by being in prison.
...these circumstances rarely factor into how women are treated in the criminal justice system.
This group is concerned about the women in Bandyup as the prison becoming increasingly tense, severely overcrowded, understaffed, underresourced and the needs of the women inside are not being met.
We seek to advocate on behalf of women inside and their families.
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Female prisoner pre-release centre not being held to account, report
The Inspector of Custodial Services is concerned WA's pre-release centre for female prisoners is not meeting key objectives and is not being held to account.
Boronia was opened in 2004 and its purpose was to better equip female prisoners for release into the community while improving public safety by reducing recidivism. WA's Economic Regulation Authority has repeatedly called for greater competition, improved accountability and performance benchmarks in the WA prison system.
WA's Inspector of Custodial Services Neil Morgan has released a report on Boronia in which he backs many of those concerns. He said the public was entitled to know whether prisons were meeting their objectives.
Mr Morgan also criticised the Department of Corrective Services for failing to act on previous recommendations to measure and assess whether the Boronia facility was performing well.
"We're actually entitled to know whether prisons meet their objectives in terms of reducing crime," he said. "Now the Department of Corrective Services has never assessed this, and at the moment a lot of the so-called 'evidence' around Boronia is anecdotal and really consists of selected good news stories."
The privately-run men's pre-release facility, Wandoo, had to meet strict performance measures and Boronia should be held to the same standard Mr Morgan said.
Prospects of rehabilitation 'hampered'
Mr Morgan was also concerned that services at Boronia had not grown in line with increased prisoner numbers. The centre was designed to handle 70 offenders but now housed 95.
Source: ABC News
This report reflects the findings from the fourth inspection of Boronia. We first inspected Boronia in 2006, and the then Inspector described the facility as ‘a model for good practice, women-centred approaches’ and urged the Department to continue to build on it’s excellent performance. At that time the centre was struggling to keep its numbers up, averaging less than 50 residents. The population capacity at the time was 70.
A huge thank you to UWA Publishing for their donation of books and tea towels to the women at Bandyup Women's Prison.
In a report last year, the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services (OICS) labelled Bandyup the "hardest and most neglected prison in the state".
The government has accepted 38 of the OICS report’s 40 recommendations, yet the only action we have seen is further installation of bunk beds in cells that were never intended for
two people. It says it does not have the funds to implement the recommendations.
YOU – can take steps now to address some of the issues identified by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services by reading the Action Plan (below) and taking action.
Join UWA Publishing and help the women imprisoned inside an overcrowded prison named the worst in the state.
How Aboriginal women with disabilities are set on a path into the criminal justice system
Aboriginal women only make up between 2% and 3% of the Australian female population.
But the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women entering prison has soaredfrom 21% of all women prisoners in 1996, to a record high of 35% in 2014.
In the past year, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women prisoners has increased again by 6% – a higher growth rate than for other women, and for Aboriginal men.
The Indigenous Australians with Mental Health Disorders and Cognitive Disability in the Criminal Justice System (IAMHDCD) project, which draws on a vast dataset of 2731 people who have been in prison in NSW, shows just how badly the system has failed Aboriginal women.
We tracked this group’s contact with police, courts, legal aid, juvenile justice and adult corrections, government housing, disability, hospitals and community services.
We found that Aboriginal women with mental and cognitive disabilities were the most disadvantaged of those in our study, and the situation is worsening.
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Law Matters Program 82, 1st July 2015
Carol Bahemia talks about the role of the Bandyup Action Group in WA
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