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					JUST US
THE VOICE OF PRISONERS & DETAINEES — NSW STATE ELECTION SPECIAL                                                           MARCH 2011            VOL.4 ISSUE:1

Prisoners and others in mental health           Prisoners are threatened with
institutions may well question the          confiscation of tobacco, forcible
value of going to the effort of enrolling   medication, mandatory anklets
to vote and voting. “Makes no               after release, not to mention being
difference!” they might say, “nobody        labelled “criminal” for life and the
listens! Just another rort and they         removal of their legal ability to defend
know more about you! Makes them             themselves.
feel legit if you participate.”             The freedom of technology
    This edition of Just Us aims                Technology can help to free us.
to inform prisoners of their rights         Just as the video camera looking into
and eligibility to vote at the State        a cell could become a communication
election on 26 March 2011. We have          device with our lawyer or family,
prepared this paper for you so you will     so could the television set in the
understand why it is very important         cell become a computer connected
for you to enrol to vote and to cast        through a server to give us access
your vote on election day. This paper       to law, education, training and email
is paid for by Justice Action and our       contact with families. It is already
advertisers.                                happening in the ACT, and Nowra
    We are at a crossroads for change       prison is wired and ready to go.
in NSW and those people who are                 All political parties supported
most disadvantaged under the current        computers in cells at the Community
system — you, your families and             Justice Coalition Forum on February
friends — must get involved to make a       19th (see below), and we have
difference.                                 access to an “unlimited” number of
Failed institutions                         computers offered by a charity.
Prisons are now regarded as failed              We have strengths. We are human
institutions all over the world. Two        beings and have equal rights in a
hundred years ago, recidivism in the        democracy. We have families and
penal colony was 1.3%. Now it is 42%.       friends who love us. We are not bad
The current structure of the justice        people and we are prepared to do
system enforces social exclusion and        better in the future. We know we are
isolation, which in turn results in more    costing the community a lot of money
crime.                                      and that the tabloids use us to create
    Prisons have become an industry,        fear in the community. We must be
with multinational corporations             given a chance to make amends and
driving their expansion. Corrective         move on. These things must change,
Services of NSW is the worst failure in     and they will if we start exercising our
Australia – a 5% recidivism rate more       rights and become active in our own
than the national average.                  defence.
                                                                    Continued page 2

                                                                                       Costa (Corrective Services) held              Do you support a trial needle and
                                                                                       concerns for prison security.             syringe program in NSW prisons?
                                                                                           Do you feel the Bail Act 1978             The ALP is contradictory; on the
                                                                                       (NSW) needs to be revised?                one hand, the Labor Health Minister
                                                                                           ALP: The Act should indeed be         is a signatory t the National HIV
                                                                                       reformed, adding objectives to the Act    Strategy that supports the program,
                                                                                       and re-writing it in plain English.       yet the ALP did not support the
                                                                                                                                 program in the forum.
                                                                                           Coalition: The Act should be
                                                                                       re-written in plain English, though           Coalition: the program should be
                                                                                       no objectives should be added. A          considered.
                                                                                       separate consideration for minors             Greens: the program would be an
                                                                                       should be added.                          effective method of reducing drug-
                                                                                           Greens: There should be a             use and illness within prisons, and
                                                                                       parliamentary or judicial review of the   supported the program.
                                                                                       Act, juveniles should be considered,          Should mentally ill prisoners
                                                                                       some sections removed without inquiry     be treated in prison or in a mental
                                                                                       or review, for example section 22a.       health facility?
                                                                                           Does the Bail Act adequately              ALP: Existing programs are
On February 19th, the Community                 Greens: Prison is a tool to increase   represent the homeless population?        sufficient.
Justice Coalition held a State pre-         community safety by providing
                                            services to enhance the rehabilitation         All parties supported the prospect        Coalition: Smith purports that
election forum to discuss the stance of
                                            process.                                   of providing accommodation to             mentally ill prisoners should not be in
the major political parties on pressing
                                                                                       homeless persons so that they cold        prison, though the Party has not yet
criminal justice matters.                       The Community Justice Coalition        have a fixed address when applying        considered an alternative avenue, and
   What do you think of the current         supports the Greens in this                for bail, however they remained ague      instead are committed to improving
perception of the prison system in          perspective on the purpose of prison       about specific strategies.                existing facilities within prison.
New South Wales?                            systems.
                                                                                           Greens: The Coalition should not          Greens: support moving funds
    ALP and Coalition: Sentencing               Do you support the introduction        re-introduce drunk and disorderly         away from in-prison programs for
should incorporate a balance                of computers in prison cells?              offences that often harshly impact the    the mentally ill, and instead propose
of punishment, deterrence and                   All parties supported this proposal,   indigenous and homeless population.       to invest funds into the community
rehabilitation.                             though the Coalition and Minister          The Coalition did not respond to this.    instead.
How I Won Back Our Voting Rights
By Vickie Roach
                                                                  The Howard Government stripped            decided that people like me, people              Corrections from attending the Court,
                                                                  detainees from the right to vote in       he deemed “undesirables”, people                 but it all happened from my cell.
                                                                  2006. The following year, Indigenous      who were sentenced to a term of
                                                                                                                                                                 In the end, in a landmark decision
                                                                  activist Vickie Roach appealed this       imprisonment, no matter how short a
                                                                                                                                                             handed down on 30 August 2007, in
                                                                  decision in the High Court in Roach       sentence or for how trivial an offence,
                                                                                                                                                             a case in which I was the Plaintiff,
                                                                  v Electoral Commissioner [2007]           had no claim to the most fundamental,
                                                                                                                                                             the High Court of Australia upheld
                                                                  HCA on the grounds of it being            basic human rights a person has – the
                                                                                                                                                             the fundamental human right to
                                                                  unconstitutional. She successfully        right to vote for the people who will
                                                                                                                                                             vote, finding that the Howard
                                                                  reversed the Liberal Government’s         govern them.
                                                                                                                                                             Government had acted unlawfully
                                                                  stringent policy, and is now                  The Howard Government                        and unconstitutionally in imposing
                                                                  commonly dubbed the Eddie Mabo            introduced legislation (CHECK) to                a blanket ban denying prisoners the
                                                                  of electoral law. She once said that      prevent every single sentenced                   vote.
                                                                  being a prisoner made one feel            prisoner in Australia from voting
                                                                  alienated from the rest of society,                                                            We won!
                                                                                                            and I thought it was exclusionary,
                                                                  and not entertaining the right to         unconstitutional, undemocratic - and                 Once again we have the right to
                                                                  vote only propagated this isolation       just plain wrong!                                have our voices heard, to exist, to be
                                                                  even further. Here’s how she did it in                                                     included and to be counted as human
                                                                                                                So, I took them all (the
                                                                  her own words.                                                                             beings with the same basic rights
                                                                                                            Commonwealth of Australia and the
                                                                      Back in 2006, while I was                                                              accorded to any other human being –
                                                                                                            Australian Electoral Commission) to
                                                                  serving a four-year prison sentence                                                        including the right to vote.
                                                                                                            Court, the most powerful Court in
                                                                  in Melbourne’s Dame Phyllis Frost         the land, the Australian High Court                  We have our voices back – let’s use
                                                                  Centre Maximum Security Women’s           in Canberra. I was not at the court              them.
                                                                  prison, the Howard Government             in person, as I was prevented by                      And let’s make it LOUD!

from page 1 — Vote for the future                                 the state’s criminal justice system.      the causes of crime as part of a                 way for inmates to ensure that their
Prisoners and the vote                                                The current ALP Government’s          holistic community-based approach                democratic rights are upheld is to be
                                                                  policy, “More Police and Tougher          as opposed to the current punitive               proactive. Eligible inmates should find
Are you aware that you may have the                                                                         system. They call for the repeal of
                                                                  Laws”, focuses on increasing the                                                           out for themselves and their fellow
right to vote in the upcoming state                                                                         the “draconian” legislation that
                                                                  strength of the NSW Police Force and                                                       prisoners whether their institution
election? Are you equally aware that                                                                        targets young people and vulnerable
                                                                  lengthening prison sentences for a                                                         makes available the services required
this right of yours is protected in                                                                         minorities.
                                                                  variety of crimes.                                                                         to vote.
Australia through the Commonwealth
Electoral Act 1918 as well as                                         The Coalition is proposing a          Your vote counts                                     Incarcerated men and women
internationally via the UN Declaration                            variety of policies, some of which        To all prisoners, we would like to               were given the right to vote in 1983.
of Human Rights 1948?                                             appear to be a move towards               reiterate that you are all part of a             Today, prisoners sentenced to less
                                                                  programs focused on rehabilitation.       democracy; don’t throw away your                 than twelve months’ imprisonment
    Knowing that such rights exist and
                                                                  They intend to increase technological     right to vote, as every one counts.              have the right to vote in NSW State
are protected, what does this mean
for you? Why is it of any relevance?                              resources currently available to              Not only does voting provide                 elections. Despite having these rights,
How can you possibly exercise this                                the police force in apprehending          the opportunity to personally effect             in practice, many eligible inmates face
individual civil right?                                           offenders, while softening the stance     change within society, but it also               barriers before they can participate in
                                                                  on petty crime.                           gives inmates the option to be                   the democratic process.
    NSW prisons hold the largest
percentage of prisoners nationwide                                    Interestingly, the Liberal            included in a process which has an                   Prison and mental health
and through your vote you will be able                            spokesperson for prisons Greg Smith       intrinsic worth to all Australians. The          authorities have failed to ensure
to exercise your democratic rights that                           was reported in the SMH 27/6/2009         Human Rights and Equal Opportunity               that every eligible inmate has the
not only will effect you but the larger                           as saying he “would remove the            Commission states: “enfranchisement              opportunity to vote in elections.
community of which you are a member.                              former prison officer Ron Woodham         is a powerful and positive tool to               Those in authority who are found
                                                                  from his post as Corrective Services      assist with social reintegration and             guilty of failing to enrol eligible
What the parties say                                              Commissioner and pump money               rehabilitation of prisoners”.                    claimants under the Commonwealth
An important aspect of voting is being                            into rehabilitation, shown by private         In our community those most likely           Electoral Act (1918) can be subject
aware of what each party stands for                               programs to have dramatically             to take a stand for prisoners’ rights            to a $1000 penalty. However, the Act
and how that might affect you.                                    decreased recidivism”. Smith said:        are the prisoners themselves. It is vital        in this circumstance is difficult to
    Each of the major political parties in                        “I’ve been consistent in my line. It’s    then that the incarcerated community             enforce where the parties responsible,
NSW has a number of specific policies                             gradually becoming part of our policy”.   takes to the polls on 26 March. While            whether Corrective Services or the
regarding issues of law and order, as                                 The Greens advocate a humane          this is not always easy or possible              Electoral Commission, love to pass the
well as a broad vision for the future of                          justice system focused on addressing      where resources are lacking, the only            buck as to who is accountable.

Photo: Justice Action coordinator Brett Collins with JA workers

  Just Us                              – History and Purpose
  Just Us, the Australian and New                                 in 2011, Just Us has substantially
                                                                                                             Just Us                                        Everyone, in or out, contact us if you want
                                                                                                                                                            to get involved and be part of the push back.
                                                                                                             PO Box 386, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia      Donations used well.
  Zealand prisoners newspaper, was                                expanded its scope to include
  last published in November 2007 in                              the cause of youth and mental              T: +61 2 9238 0123
                                                                                                                                                            BREAKOUT DESIGNPRINTWEB
  the cause of prisoners and human                                health consumers. Thus, ongoing            F: +61 2 9283 0112
                                                                                                                                                            funds Just Us and Justice Action.
                                                                  campaigns such as the basic human          E:
  rights. Its predecessor, Framed,                                                                                                                          Give Breakout the chance to underquote
  existed in a similar capacity for                               right to computers in cells, the case                                                     and get a double bang for your buck.
  25 years from 1989 to 2004 as a                                 study of the mental health consumer        Letters may be edited for space, and content   Twenty-seven years of quality work,
                                                                  Saeed Dezfouli and the recent urban        that might get you or us in trouble.           servicing clients and social justice.
  quarterly journal of Justice Action,
  the community based organisation                                developments at Callan Park will be        Unless otherwise indicated, authors will be    Printed by BREAKOUT DESIGNPRINTWEB
  of criminal justice activists. Now                              discussed.                                 identified by first name and prison only.      4 Goulburn St Sydney 2000
                                                                                                             Just Us needs your support!                    T: 02 9283 0123 F: 02 9283 0112
                                                                                                             Help is needed with other projects.            E:
Website for prisoners                                                                Mental Health Patients
Justice Action has developed a tool for
improving the services prisoners and
mental health consumers receive.
                                           taxpayers $200,000 a year, prisoners
                                           $75,000 but you have no say in how
                                           this is spent.
                                                                                     Right to Vote
    A social enterprise called Breakout        Produced by Justice Action in         The Electoral Commission, under                          eligible persons from the electoral
DesignPrintWeb has employed ex-            2010, the OUR PICK Report, which          the guidance of the Commonwealth                         roll if they believe their patient to
prisoners since 1984. As part of its       focused on mental health detainees,       Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) s93                             be of unsound mind. They can do
social justice brief, Breakout resources   concluded that the service providers      subsection 8(a), prohibits persons                       this by filling out a claim to remove
Justice Action, which is a community       don’t care, yet the funding they          of unsound mind from voting; those                       the elector from the electoral roll
organisation that fights for the           receive is to develop programs to         who do not fully comprehend the                          alongside their medical certificate.
rights of prisoners and mental health      help you, the prisoner and the mental     nature and significance of enrolment                          Mental illness impacts on most
detainees                                  health detainee. The report accused       and voting. Who decides who is of                        Australians, either directly or
                                           the industry of corruption and called     unsound mind, and where do mental                        indirectly, at some point in their lives.
    Through Justice Action, Breakout                                                 health patients fit into this?
funds the Just Us newspaper, and           for urgent change, a call which                                                                    It is common. One in five people will
assists other organisations like the       remains unanswered.                           The AEC (                      experience a mental illness in any
Community Justice Coalition and the        Service Directory                         FAQs/Enrolment.htm#unsound_mind)                         12-month period, and approximately
Women in Prison Advocacy Network                                                     states that a medical practitioner                       14% of Australians will be affected
                                           Justice Action has now created a          must notify, in writing, to the Electoral                by an anxiety disorder in the same
(WIPAN).                                   directory on our website to help you      Commission to remove all previously-                     period.
    Justice Action requested support       take back control of your own lives.

                                                                                     The Offer of Hope
to produce this paper from the             You can now make judgments and
industries centred on prisons and          submit reports directly or through
mental health consumers. We asked          your families about the services you
the large legal firms and the mental       receive as a prisoner or mental health
health and prison services providers       detainee.                                  Every Monday since the “Offer of                        peacefully to society.
to advertise in this issue or become           We will publish your reports and       Hope” initiative was launched on                            The Offer of Hope is designed to
sponsors of the issue. We approached       ratings, and report to the appropriate     International Human Rights Day, 10                      address this. It is a desperate plea
them individually and offered them         government bodies and also to the          December 2006, prisoners across the                     for help from a segment of society
listings but they ignored us.              media. As well, any prisoners who          world have observed a Monday midday                     that only wants acceptance by the
    Prisoners and mental health            want, can have their own page on this      minute of silence to symbolise their                    community, access to family and
detainees are powerless and poor,          website, present themselves as a real      desire to negotiate with government to                  friends and the tools to improve
with few or no resources, while the        person and tell their own stories.         end the cycle of violence.                              themselves. The very statement of the
industry around you is rich. A single          Phone (02) 9283 0123 or                    Originally a prisoner initiative from               appeal calls for belief, trust and help
patient or youth detainee costs            email            the dungeons of the HRMU segregation                    — a belief in the power of change,
                                                                                      unit in Goulburn Prison, this plea                      trust in the good intentions of these

History of Detainee
                                                                                      for help and trust demonstrates the                     men and women and help to get there.
                                                                                      willingness of prisoners to improve                         However, despite increasing
                                                                                      themselves and play a positive role                     community awareness and high
                                                                                      within the community.

Voting Rights
                                                                                                                                              profile support from Peter Garrett
                                                                                          The reason that such a movement                     MP and Senator Lee Rhiannon,
                                                                                      is so important is that cycles of                       the campaign has been rejected
                                                                                      violence are not only physical but                      by governments that refuse to
When New South Wales was settled,          expanded the rights for detainees to       also psychological. The refusal of                      acknowledge the humanity of
and the Legislative Council was            vote based on time actually served,        government to treat prisoners with                      prisoners. NSW Attorney General
formed in 1833, voting rights were         as opposed to maximum penalties.           any dignity, the imposition of periods                  John Hatzistergos was presented
reserved for landowners; of course,        Thousands more prisoners were able         in isolation, and the general repressive                with this appeal, but his office never
this originally included solely free       to participate in elections. The duty      approach to men and women requiring                     acknowledged it.
men that owned property. Twenty            fell upon the Controller General of        rehabilitation is a soul-destroying                         Justice Action calls upon all
years later, the British Government        Prisons to send a list of prisoners        experience that leads to high rates                     prisoners and the community in general
intervened and affirmed that all           eligible to vote to the Australian         of recidivism and a crippling inability                 to recognise the issue and respect the
men, including prisoners, could vote       Electoral Commission.                      on the part of prisoners to return                      Monday midday minute of silence.
provided they owned property that              This advancement of prisoner
exceeded the value of one hundred          rights was soon reversed, and
pounds. The Commonwealth                                                                                                                                                    W
                                                                                                                                                    T h e rig ht
                                           now only those imprisoned for less
Franchise Act 1902 (Cth) eliminated        than three years retain the right to
                                                                                         Australian psychiatric                                                              ho
the right to vote for detainees            vote. Though we are signatory to              hospitals need to repeal                                                               ’s
serving a sentence of more than a          international treaties such as the
                                                                                         their cruel bans & allow                                                                    ne
year. In 1938, this was expanded to        International Covenant on Civil and                                                                                                         xt
include prisoners who were serving
less than five years. In 1995, the
                                           Political Rights, we fail to adhere to        involuntary patients                                                                             ?
                                           Article 25 and its prescription for all
Commonwealth Electoral Act again           citizens to enjoy their right to vote.        the freedom to smoke.
                                                                                         The NSW Consumer Voice
 Lawyers                                                                                 group supports STOPPING
                                                                                         the cruel and unnecessary
                                                                                         Smoking Bans in Australian Psychiatric Wards!
 Paul Johnson Barrister
 • All criminal and parole matters                                                      For more information
 Samuel Griffith Chambers, Lvl 30, 66 Goulburn St, Sydney 2000.
 T: 02 9267 4955
 Greg Murray Solicitor
 • Accredited specialist criminal law
 Lvl 1, 255 King St, Sydney 2000 T: 02 9264 9933 M: 0407 721190
                                                                                      Their “law and order” – not ours
                                                                                      For justice VOTE 1 SOCIALIST ALLIANCE
 O’Brien Solicitors                                                                   If the government was serious about reducing crime, it would increase
 • All criminal matters • Parole matters • Unlawful Imprisonment claims               funding for health, education, rehabilitation, public housing & job creation,
 265 Castlereagh St, Suite 504, Sydney 2000 T: 02 9262 1715                           not build more jails, impose longer jail terms, undermine the Bail Act &
                                                                                      expand police powers. We say: “reduce poverty to reduce crime!”
                                                                                      The Socialist Alliance stands for:
 Phil Ryan Solicitor                                                                  • Funding services, rehabilitation, education & real jobs, not jails & police
 • All criminal matters                                                               • Implementing the recommendations of the royal commission into
                                                                                            Aboriginal deaths in custody
 265 Castlereagh St, Suite 504, Sydney 2000 T: 0415 613641                            • Free, quality legal aid for all who need it
 Richard Wilson Barrister                                                             • Award wages for working prisoners
                                                                                      • Decriminalising victimless crimes
 • All criminal matters • Parole • Aboriginal client speciality                       • Restoring the presumption in favour of bail
 Lvl 7, Garfield Barwick Chambers, 53 Martin Place, Sydney. 2000                      • No private prisons
 T: 02 9224 5600                                                                   PO Box 114, Broadway, NSW 2007
                                                                                                              Authorised by Duroyan Fertl, 23 Abercrombie St, Chippendale
 Vote 1 Democrat
 Arthur Chesterfield-Evans
 (ACE)                                                                Red Cross
 Here’s why:
 A Proven track record                                                making a
 When in Parliament, ACE initiated the NSW Mental Health
 Inquiry, which got an extra $320 million for mental health, and
 led to a better accounting system and a Federal Inquiry which
 put psychologists on Medicare, so mental health became more
 accessible. When there are no facilities, mental health patients
 end up in gaol.
                                                                      Red Cross is committed to
 ACE was on the Inquiry into Prisons and asked the hard               making a difference in the lives
 questions of the Minister and the system. He hassled                 of people and their families
 unsuccessfully to get in the see the SuperMax in Goulburn.           who are involved in the criminal
 Labor can talk the talk, but will not walk the walk.                 justice system.
 ACE set up the DoCS inquiry to get a better deal for kids with       For instance, save-a-mate
 problems. Everyone knows that is kids do not get a good start        (SAM) provides training and
 they are more likely to end up in gaol.                              education for young people
 ACE lobbied to get changes to the Health Act so that the Minister    in juvenile detention centres
 did not have to approve the release of Mental Health GP              and jails, to help them prevent,
 Prisoners to depoliticise the issue and leave it to the Tribunal.    recognise and respond to
 ACE was on the Community Justice Coalition for a better deal         alcohol and other drug related
 for prisoners. Rehabilitation, education and a job are needed,       emergencies.
 but these programs have to be set up. They can easily be funded      For more information about
 from the savings of having less people in gaol.                      the work of Red Cross
 Democrats have led the way on a better deal for prisoners.           in the justice area go to
 They will work for:                                        
 Decriminalisation of Drugs for personal use
 Drugs should be a medical issue, not a political football for                     CRISIS CARE COMMITMENT
 shock jocks. The ‘war on drugs’ is lost.
 Independent Inspector of Prisons
                                                                     Just Us
 If people knew what really happens in Prisons, there would be
 more pressure for reform.
 Human — This means the right to be considered innocent until
 proven guilty, with the presumption of Bail and decent Legal Aid.
 Education — Work for Prisoners and Accommodation on release
 so that there is reasonable chance of a getting a job.

                                                                     and human rights
                                  The Greens                         of VIC.
                   stand up for human rights.                          reinvestment and redirect money from
  Liberal and Labor have used bail laws
                       The Greens will                                 The Greens want prisoners with mental
                                                                     health issues treated within mental health
                             bail and repeal s22A.

Real change, for a change
      Vote 1 The Greens
Authorised by Lesa de Leau for The Greens 19 Eve St Erskineville

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