State budget fails to compensate for rising prison population

The WA Prison Officers’ Union is very concerned that the State Government has no provision in its budget to compensate for the impact of its tough new burglary laws.

While the budget does acknowledge there is a risk the legislation will increase WA’s adult and juvenile prison populations due to lengthened sentences, there is no extra funding to accommodate them.

The budget papers also notes that the financial impact of the laws is uncertain and so have not been included.

WAPOU Secretary John Welch said WA’s prisons are already facing chronic overcrowding and the new laws are going to make things worse.

“We already have a serious overcrowding problem, we have prisoners sleeping on floors, we have two people crammed into a cell designed for one person,” he said.

“We have already seen the prison population increase by 150 people so far this year, and these laws are likely to result in even more prisoners being added to that population.

“What concerns us is that the government doesn’t have adequate plans in place to house the prisoners already in the system, let alone extra prisoners who may come into the system because of its laws.”

Mr Welch said overcrowding led to problems with anti social behaviour and violence and was dangerous for both prisoners and staff.

Mr Welch said new beds planned to open at Acacia prison and in the goldfields would not alleviate the current overcrowding problem.