Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Prisoner Mail Screening – Response
The Hon. J.S. LEE: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Correctional Services a question.
The Hon. J.S. LEE: As reported in an article on page 5 of The Advertiser yesterday, can the minister explain how a letter was able to be sent by a convicted paedophile, Mark Trevor Marshall, from gaol to the mother of one of his victims?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I thank the honourable member for her question because I have to say that I was rather disappointed on learning about the particular letter that the honourable member refers to. I can advise that the Department for Correctional Services conducts both targeted and random screening of prisoner mail in an effort to protect victims and intercept criminal behaviour and gather intelligence.
In relation to the particular prisoner in question, I am advised that all outgoing mail was flagged for checking by the department’s Ethics, Intelligence and Investigations Unit. It appears that, in this particular instance, a third party may have been involved by forwarding the letter to the victim, making it particularly difficult to detect even with flags in place. The Department for Correctional Services is looking at ways to strengthen its systems to provide greater protection to victims of crime.
I understand that the prisoner in question has a scheduled court appearance and, as such, I am limited in any further comment I can make. What I would say is that, if indeed my advice is correct and a third person has been involved in forwarding the letter to the victim, obviously that is a very different proposition and far more difficult to police.
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I have a supplementary question. Pending investigation, would the normal process be the potential loss of any privileges and rights relating to being able to send further mail? Is the prisoner likely to lose any privileges in that regard?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): It is always an option available to Corrections that, if the good order of the facility has been compromised, it is within the purview of Corrections staff to change the prisoner’s routine or indeed separate the prisoner. One of the most severe penalties that can be applied to a prisoner is to have them separated—that is, to put them in a completely different unit with a different regime altogether. That, of course, is an option that is available to Corrections staff or the department where a prisoner has clearly done the wrong thing.
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Supplementary. I wasn’t talking about isolation; I was talking about whether he might lose his rights to send further mail.
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I am not aware, and I haven’t received any recent advice regarding whether or not sending mail is a privilege or a right. Clearly, there would be occasions where prisoners having regular contact through written correspondence with family and the like is appropriate and, indeed, to be encouraged so that they can maintain social links with the outside community, which will assist with their transition back to the community. I am happy to go back and, along with Mr Wade’s specific question, seek advice as to whether or not in this instance the prisoner’s ability to send mail has been withdrawn, if indeed it can be.
Response received 14/02/2017
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) : I am advised:
Prisoners have a legislated right to send and receive mail pursuant to Section 33 of the Correctional Services Act 1982 . However, any mail sent or received by a prisoner will continue to be highly scrutinised.