Risdon Prison inmates have had education programs taken away this year due to frequent lockdowns at the complex.
The state’s Custodial Inspector on Wednesday again produced another report detailing an overstretched prison system in Tasmania.
The new report on rehabilitation and reintegration has made 39 recommendations particularly in relation to individual case management, offender programs, education and preparation for release and employment.
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Attorney-General Elise Archer said the government would support all but one of the recommendations in the draft report.
That was a recommendation for the prison service to implement a residential drug and alcohol program for women prisoners
In its response to the recommendation, the Justice Department reasoned the delivery of such a program would not be appropriate for a small female prisoner population.
Custodial Inspector Richard Connock in his report noted traineeships in prison industries should be implemented and that lockdowns directly impacted the completion of education and programs by prisoners.
“As I have noted in previous reports, the Tasmanian Prison Service is overstretched at almost every point due to the continual increase in prisoner numbers and existing infrastructure constraints,” he said.
“This also creates system pressures in many areas including education, employment for prisoners and preparation for their release.”
Mr Connock said a decision in 2019 to suspend most prisoner leave so individual risk assessments could occur was disappointing.
“There are now very few opportunities for prisoners to work outside of the prison and re-socialise with family and community in preparation for their release,” he said.
Mr Connock said the number of prisoners working in the community had reduced from 25 to one.
He said no education programs were on offer this year due to the unpredictability of frequent lockdowns at Risdon Prison.
The government has a prison officer recruitment strategy underway to limit the amount of lockdowns due to staff shortages.
Tasmanian Prisoners Legal Service chairman Greg Barns said the government had failed to provide health and education supports to see people’s lives improved while prison and support for when they were released.
He said the service called for the government to reduce prisoner numbers by diverting people denied bail because they had nowhere to live towards accommodation and focus on alternatives to a system of detention.
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