Penalties for prison visitors to be increased by up to sixfold

  • Financial penalties for offences such as refusing a search or bringing in unauthorised articles to a prison to be increased by up to six times
  • Penalties have not changed for nearly 40 years
  • Part of McGowan Government’s commitment to improving prison security 
  • People who try to bring unauthorised articles into a Western Australian jail could be fined up $12,000 and face 18 months’ imprisonment under new tough proposed changes.

    The McGowan Labor Government has new legislation before the State Parliament this week to significantly increase the financial penalties for bringing in unauthorised items, refusing to be searched, giving false statements or loitering outside a prison.

    Currently a visitor who was caught with drugs or other contraband can face a $2,000 fine or 18 months’ imprisonment, but under the proposed amendments to WA’s Prisons Act 1981 that penalty would be significantly increased to a $12,000 fine and 18 months’ imprisonment.

    Other proposed increases include:

    • Refusal to be searched from $1,000 to $6,000
    • Unlawfully entering or attempting to enter a prison from $1,500 to $9,000 (and 18 months’ jail)
    • Loitering around a prison from $1,000 to $6,000 (and 12 months’ jail)
    • Giving false information to enter a prison from $1,000 to $6,000 (and 12 months’ jail) 

    The new changes are part of the Prisons Amendment Bill 2019, which is before State Parliament this week.

    The financial penalties under the current Act have not been changed for almost 40 years since it was first introduced.

    As stated by Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan:

    “These proposed increases to the financial penalties for visitors who try to do the wrong thing are just another example of the McGowan Labor Government’s commitment to improving the security and good working order of our jails.

    “In many cases, these financial penalties will be increased sixfold and someone who attempts to bring unauthorised articles into a prison could be fined $12,000 instead of $2,000 and face 18 months’ imprisonment.

    “If a visitor refuses to be searched, then that could cost them $6,000 and if someone thinks it’s a good idea to loiter outside a jail, that could be $6,000 and 12 months’ jail.

    “It has been nearly 40 years since these penalties in the Prisons Act 1981 were amended and I am hopeful that the proposed amendments can be put in place as soon as possible.

    “These tough new penalties follow the McGowan Government’s $300 million investment into 1,228 new beds to address the inherited overcrowding crisis, an Australian-first alcohol and other drug treatment prison, more drug dogs, more prison officers, more resources for intelligence and investigation functions, and many other innovative initiatives.

    “I hope the message is getting through to those that seek to do the wrong thing in our jails or when visiting them, that this Government has zero tolerance and is doing everything that it can to stop them.”

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