Corrections Bill heralds a shift in focus for Corrections

The largest suite of changes to the Correctional Services Act in decades has been introduced to parliament improving representation for victims and promoting the safe and secure management of prisoners in correctional institutions across South Australia.

Changes outlined in the Bill include giving more weight to victims, banning drones around prisons and introducing buffer zones prohibiting the sale or supply of drugs around correctional facilities.

The Correctional Services (Accountability and Other Measures) Amendment Bill 2020 allows the Department for Correctional Services to continue to provide the highest level of prisoner and offender management, whilst building a strong rehabilitative culture.

Correctional Services Minister Corey Wingard said that a number of important changes have been made to ensure victim impact, and the impact on a victim’s family, is taken into consideration.

“The Commissioner for Victims’ Rights will now be automatically advised when an award of damages is paid to a prisoner and subsequently quarantined, for victims and certain others to make claim to,” Minister Wingard said.

“Should no specific victim make a claim against the compensation funds, fifty percent of the remaining funds will be credited to the Victims of Crime Fund, with the remaining fifty percent to be used by the prisoner for rehabilitation and reintegration at the conclusion of their sentence.”

The Bill will introduce ‘prison buffer zones’ that mirror school zones, in which the sale, supply or administration of a controlled drug is prohibited. Penalties will also be increased for possession of unauthorised mobile telephones within a prison buffer zone.

Tougher penalties will also apply to those who attempt to introduce contraband into prisons. These penalties could include custodial sentences of up to 10 years.

The passing of the Bill makes it an offence to fly drones within 100m of a prison without the Chief Executive’s permission. This means one less avenue for the potential introduction of drugs into the system.

Other important reforms include preventing prisoners who are sentenced for offences of dealing or trafficking drugs from receiving automatic parole. Prisoners who are sentenced to less than five years imprisonment for these offences are no longer eligible for automatic parole at the end of their non-parole period. This means the Parole Board can then consider factors including their program participation while in custody and the safety of the community before granting release.

“The early version of this Bill has had somewhat of a long life, with the Opposition undertaking early work on it. But this government has significantly beefed up the Bill and I’m proud that we will be delivering this important reform,” Minister Wingard said.

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