Union sceptical about new incentive model for women's prison

The WA Prison Officers’ Union is highly sceptical about the government’s new incentive model for the private operator of WA’s new women’s prison.

The government has announced Sodexo will be awarded incentive payments if it prevents prisoners from reoffending.

The French multinational has been named the operator of the new Melaleuca women’s facility at Hakea Prison, despite a bid from the public sector to run it.

“It’s a slap in the face to all the hard working Prison Officers, who have been managing the chronic overcrowding at the current facility, for the government to tell them it thinks an overseas private provider can come in and do a better job,” said WAPOU Secretary John Welch.

Mr Welch said the government had not been transparent in its modeling in awarding the contract.

“The Minister claims that Sodexo will run the new facility more cheaply than if it was run by the public sector, but we would question whether that’s really the case,” he said.

“The Minister says Sodexo would house prisoners for $206 a day, compared with the government’s modeling of $257 for the public sector to run it.

“Based on the modeling we did with the government, the final figures they’ve arrived at are much higher than we would’ve expected, but we can’t know the facts unless the government releases its modeling.”

Mr Welch said he was sceptical that the new incentive model could work.

“There’s no evidence that we’ve seen that incentive models like this one actually reduce recidivism,” he said.

“We’d also question how its effectiveness is going to be measured, given the complex amount of factors that lead to prisoners reoffending.

“Sodexo will have to rely on services outside the prison to house and rehabilitate women once they leave jail.

“If those women don’t reoffend, how can that be attributed to Sodexo?

“Clearly they can only control what goes on inside the prison walls, and we don’t want to see them rewarded with public money for results they’re not completely responsible for.”