Parliament: Questions Kelly's Asked

Prisoner Pre-release Programs

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Supplementary question: how much does it cost per prisoner for a prisoner to participate in a ‘pre-release’ program and, statistically, what impact does participation have on recidivism?

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 important question. Regarding cost, one has to start with the figure of the cost of incarceration. The cost of incarceration is in the order of $70,000 to $100,000 per annum, per prisoner, depending on the facility that they are in. It is an extraordinary cost, which is why we have to have that objective at heart of aiming to reduce the rate of reoffending.

Using programs pre-release, for example a prisoner going through the Pre-release Centre, is a very good example of the sort of effort that can be made of trying to maximise the likelihood of when an offender is ultimately released as a result of a decision—not made by me or anyone within the government, but rather, by the court—that when that person is released, the likelihood of them getting back into the community and making a positive contribution, as distinct from reoffending and creating another victim, and then, of course, resulting in more incarceration with a more considerable expense, is an incredibly important effort.

It is about being smart on crime. Regarding the costs of rehabilitative programs, they are varied, depending on what particular section they are in. Already, this government has contributed additional funds and resources as a result of this year’s state budget to a substantially larger investment in criminogenic programs; for instance, funding of, my advice is, an additional 19 to 20 FTEs in delivering criminogenic programs. I think part of your question was the specific costs associated with having someone in a high security facility versus the Adelaide Pre-release Centre? Was that the tenor of the question?

The Hon. K.L. Vincent: Not really, but—

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS: I don’t have a statistic at hand along those lines, but what I can assure the house is that the cost of rehabilitative programs, the costs of keeping people out of gaol, will always be cheaper than locking them up.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: A supplementary, Mr President: I want to offer a point of clarification on my question on the second part of it which was: statistically, what impact does participation in pre-release programs have on reoffending? Given that it is cheaper to prevent incarceration, aren’t we enabling young people with intellectual disability, low literacy or mental illness access to education options while on remand?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I do not have a statistic at hand which talks to a specific program delivering a specific outcome in terms of reducing the rate of reoffending. But yes, of course, where there are investments made or where a prisoner has had access to a degree of rehabilitative services, the likelihood of them reoffending reduces. There is no doubt about that. There is no holistic statistic because the nature of the programs offered to people who find themselves in custody are varied dramatically. There are people who find themselves getting rather intensive programs or criminogenic programs applied to them due to the nature of their initial offending versus someone else who might just have a basic prison industries program afforded to them, so there is no single holistic statistic.

Each individual program, as I understand it, has measures and statistics associated with it, and part of the reason behind that is that we want to make sure we have an evidence-based approach around who gets what services in prison. There is no point in applying a particular program to an offender if they do not have any likelihood of responding to it. Particular programs have different success rates depending on what cohort of prisoners you are referring to.

The question of providing services and programs to people on remand is a question that the Strategic Policy Panel, which I have put together to look at reducing the rate of reoffending, is specifically looking at. We have a remand rate in South Australia that is in the order of 42 per cent. Approximately 42 per cent of people who find themselves in custody in South Australia are on remand. That statistic in respect to women is, tragically, even higher. In excess of 50 per cent of female prisoners in our prison population are on remand.

One of the consequences of that is that they do not necessarily have access to rehabilitative programs. That is something that is actively being looked at by the Strategic Policy Panel, which I am looking forward to reporting to me in due course, which may provide recommendations to the government to see if that issue is worthy of being amended in a policy sense.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: A further supplementary, Mr President: which types of programs are more successful in terms of reducing reoffending? Will the minister look into getting an overall statistic? I appreciate that success will vary from program to program, but surely since we want an evidence-based approach, by the minister’s own admission, it would be helpful to have an overarching figure as to an indication of the success of pre-release programs.

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I am happy to take a question on notice regarding the success rate of particular programs in terms of reducing reoffending. Of course, an overall figure is difficult because it is my hope and expectation that almost every prisoner gets access to some sort of service or another, and to be able to have a success rate, you need to be able to compare it to a cohort of prisoners who might not necessarily get access to any services at all in prison, which is hard to come by. Nevertheless, I am happy to ask the question, and if there is information available, I will bring it back to the Hon. Ms Vincent.