Media Release - Prisoner rehabilitation: is it working?

29 October 2014


The Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass today released a discussion paper outlining the key issues emerging from her investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria.
Ms Glass announced her investigation in July 2014, prompted by the growth in prisoner numbers, concerns with rates of re-offending and the cost to the Victorian community.
"There has been a substantial response to my announcement of this investigation.  I will now be looking in greater detail at the evidence, and am calling for submissions from organisations and individuals who have experience or evidence to assist us fill the gaps in the narrative," Ms Glass said.
"I am concerned to establish whether the services provided to prisoners are effective in reducing re-offending; the impact of increasing prisoner numbers on these services; and whether there are any particular groups within the prisoner population that are not being adequately supported".
In her discussion paper, Ms Glass notes that although a massive building program has begun to increase capacity across the prison system, growth in prisoner numbers has affected both the availability of and access to programs and support, both before and after release.
With the current strain on prison resources and the increasing rate of people returning to prison, the question of whether the system is working to reduce re-offending becomes even more important.
"This is not simply a problem for the prison authorities and does not affect only the prison population or those connected to it.  It is a problem for the state, and everyone in it."
Of particular concern is the inconsistent delivery of programs to indigenous prisoners, and the sufficiency of services specifically tailored to the needs of women offenders.
"It is important that the heightened needs of these prisoners are recognised.  A common observation is that when systems come under stress, these groups seem to bear a disproportionate amount of the burden."
Ms Glass invites interested groups, individuals and agencies to respond to the questions set out in her paper or to provide further information.  All submissions must be received by 31 December 2014.
A report with recommendations will be published when the investigation is complete.
Click here for the full discussion paper:
Further information:  Lynne Haultain Tel 03 9613 6200 | Mob 0409 936 235
                          | Follow @VicOmbudsman