Report of an Announced Inspection of Bandyup Women's Prison

Description

The rate of female imprisonment in Western Australia is increasing at more than twice the rate of male imprisonment, and 40% of the women are Aboriginal. The inspection of Bandyup Women’s Prison was conducted at two periods separated by five months, on account of major disruptive construction work, but this report finds that the prison is still functioning poorly, despite the opening of a new accommodation block. The basic problem is that imprisonment in Western Australia is still defined in male terms. Security ratings accord with male criteria, staffing is predominantly by male officers, and no provision has been made in the refurbishments for additional mother and baby accommodation. Health services for women at the prison fall short of an acceptable standard, to the extent that a woman was found to be shackled in hospital while giving birth. The report contains a detailed evaluation of services and programs for prisoners at Bandyup, as well as security, management and staffing issues. It also explores the issues that are identified in the international literature on women and imprisonment, with a particular focus on Britain and Canada, and addresses cross cultural issues, noting that the divide between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal prisoners at Bandyup has been allowed to develop unchecked. The response by the Western Australian Department of Justice to the recommendations of the report is summarised in an appendix.