Private prisons: Are they really cheaper, better and more accountable?

Victoria has recently committed to spending a whole lot more on prisons and corrections to accommodate its growing prison population. As Deirdre O’Neill, Valarie Sands and Graeme Hodge of Monash University report, Victoria relies more heavily on privatised prisons than anywhere else in the country, but lack of transparency makes it frustratingly difficult to tell whether privatisation has delivered on its promises of cheaper, better and more accountable. This post is based on their recent article in the Australian Journal of Public Administration.

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On bailing teenagers accused of sexual offences

*Content warning: This post contains references to sexual violence.*

A recent Victorian court decision to release a teenager charged with sexual assault on strict bail conditions has prompted an outcry from Victoria Police and the state opposition. Today's post from an anonymous Australian lawyer challenges us to consider a more progressive legal and moral standpoint- from an anti-carceral feminist perspective, imprisonment for the sake of harsh punishment will not lead to the teenager's reform and rehabilitation.

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Creating public value through design thinking in policy: The case of Kansas’ prison system

In 2008, for the first time in the history of the United States, more than 1% of the adult American adult population was incarcerated. The prison population had increased approximately sevenfold since 1970, the US imprisoned more types of criminal offenders than any other country, and it kept them in prison longer. Here Jo Luetjens reports on work with her ANZSOG colleague Prof Michael Mintrom on how design thinking drove the introduction of an investment approach in the US state of Kansas. Early results are promising, and many other states have since taken up this approach.

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Should we be locking people up in prisons at all?

In the lead-up to Putting Women at the Centre: A Policy Forum on 16 August 2016, the Women’s Policy Action Tank has asked some of the day’s participants to publish articles reflecting how current policy differently impacts on women.  In today’s post, Rob Hulls and Elena Campbell discuss the shortcomings of Australia’s criminal justice system.  When a significant proportion of all offenders come into custody profoundly disadvantaged - and traumatised - in some way, does imprisonment offer the best chance at behavioural correction and rehabilitation?  This article originally appeared in The Conversation.

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No 'one size fits all' solutions to long-term youth unemployment

Election campaigns tend to reduce complex issues to soundbites.  In today’s post, Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards argues that it takes more than jobs and growth to help some young people prepare for and find sustainable employment. Without the right investment and support, young people with complex needs can be excluded from education and employment and are more likely to cycle in and out of homelessness services, mental health services and the justice system throughout their lives.

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Mental Health and the prison system: a policy concern

Mental health care is a significant policy challenge facing our prison systems in Australia. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 3 people entering prison have a diagnosed mental illness; almost 2.5 times the rate of the general population. There is growing concern that people with an untreated mental illness are more likely to be imprisoned due to a lack of community-based care. There is also concern about the lack of quality of mental health care in prisons, and its implications for those making the transition back into the community. In this article, Stephen Hall, Leader Mission and Service, Baptistcare WA, outlines the need for better mental health services for the prison population. While the focus is on Western Australia, the issues raised here will resonate nationally, and internationally.  

This article originally appeared on Stephen Hall's professional blog

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