Call for low-custody Queensland prison to reduce costs

 

A MOUNT Isa chaplain and indigenous advocate wants a low-custody facility in the North West as an alternative to flying prisoners across the state at an enormous cost away from their family.

Father Mick Lowcock raised the option in a submission to the inquiry into imprisonment and recidivism by the Queensland Productivity Commission.

Fr Lowcock highlighted the need for greater local input into transition plans surrounding prisoner release, noting a Mount Isa-based facility would enable them to plan weeks in advance.

"Ideally, there would be a week or two within the transitional plan where appropriate placement and support options are explored, particularly key reoffending risk factors such as the realities around family and accommodation circumstances," he wrote.

Father Mick Lowcock wants a low-custody facility in the North West as an alternative to flying prisoners across the state.
Father Mick Lowcock wants a low-custody facility in the North West as an alternative to flying prisoners across the state.


He said re-integration needed planning to consider mental health, employment and other services required for support upon release.

"Persons being released without any prior or concurrent exploration of these issues are most certainly at risk, including the development of cyclical behaviours contributing to reoffending and recidivism," he wrote.

In his submission he proposed the costs involved in running a low-risk facility in Mount Isa should be investigated, as it had been suggested that it would be much lower than placing a good number of people in a high-risk facility on the east coast, he said.

He noted the costs involved in transporting prisoners to jail in Townsville or Mareeba and then having them come back to court in Mount Isa was enormous. Fr Lowcock said jail facilities on the east coast limited family access.

Traeger MP Robbie Katter said the low-custody facilities would be welcomed and particularly useful for teens in the youth justice system.

He said the facilities could be low cost and create an environment for rehabilitation by putting the offenders to work.

"That's where you can start to make any inroads if you've got any chance with these kids, that's where it can happen in those remote locations," he said.

Fr Lowcock also touched on the need for a second permanent magistrate who could assist in the growing influence on culture through an increasing number of Northern Territory people appearing in the Mount Isa court.


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