Australian inmates may soon be given keys to their cells

March 28th, 2009 - 1:42 pm ICT by ANI  

Sydney, Mar. 27 (ANI): A company is planning to bid for the contracts of two Australia-based jails, in which inmates will have keys to their cells.

The research director of the UK-based Serco Group, Gary Sturgess will tell a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry that decency, not efficiency, is the main reason to privatize jails.

Sturgess, who advocated prisoners having a first-name basis with their jailers, says overseas experience shows that prisoners enjoy more privileges - including being given the keys to their own cells - in correctional systems, reports.

Prisoners in private systems spend more time out of their cells and have far greater interaction with their jailers than in public provided jails, he added.

The results are safer jails and lower rates of re-offending, Sturgess claims.

Serco is expected to bid for the contracts to operate Cessnock prison in the Hunter Valley, and western Sydney located Parklea prison.

The company already operates one jail each in Victoria and Western Australia.

Sturgess’s submission argument to the upper house inquiry links private jail services to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair backed ‘decency agenda’.

“Contract prisons in the UK are more humane, partly because government demanded a higher standard when writing the original contracts, partly because price was not allowed to dominate the procurement process, and partly because the political and policy environment at the time when the market was first established was focused on the quality of prison life,” the Serco submission form said.

Earlier, inmates in low- and medium-security prisons in Britain had been allowed to hold duplicate keys to their own cells, leading to improved efficiency and decency.

“If (the warder) is the only one with a key, then every time a prisoner wants to go in and out of their cell you’ve got to send somebody to look at it. This way, the inmate has the dignity of having private space and a greater sense of security,” he said. (ANI)

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