Saturday, April 12, 2014

Australia has the highest proportion of prisoners in private corporate run prisons in the world

A Report by the Sentencing Project titled International Growth Trends in Prison Privatization shows that Australia has the highest proportion of prisoners in private (corporate) run prisons in the world. 

The Table shows that the percentage of prisoners held in private prisons in Australia is 19%, compared to 17% in Scotland, 14% in England and Wales and 115 in New Zealand.

Some Australian states, like Victoria, have a higher proportion of prisoners in private prisons. In Victoria nearly one third of prisoners are held in private prisons, giving it the highest level of prison privatization of any jurisdiction in the world.

The US has the highest number of prisoners held in private/corporate run prisons, but the percentage of prisoners in private prisons is 8%.

The population of people held in private prisons in Australia has increased 95% in the past 15 years. In that same period, the number of prisoners in state-run jails grew by 50 per cent and the total prison population increased by 57 per cent. The rapid and consistent increase in the number of prisoners over the last two decades, coupled with a 106% prison occupancy rate, creates an opportunity for private prison corporations to thrive.

Another reason for the growth in the numbers of detainees in corporate run prisons in Australia has been the enormous growth in the number of asylum seekers detained in immigration detention prisons run by Serco (on shore and Christmas Island) and Transfield (Naura and Manus Island).

Private run prisons are seriously profitable, with the corporations involved in running private prisons making increased profits across all jurisdictions in which they operate. 
In Australia three private corporations- Serco, G4S and Geo Group- run private prisons in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. These three corporations are global giants, in what is a powerful billion dollar industry, and also run prisons in the US, UK, Europe, Israel and South Africa.

Corporate run prisons in Australia are:

  • Immigration Detention Centres, onshore and offshore (Serco and Transfield)
  • Acacia Prison Western Australia (Serco)
  • Wandoo Young Adult Facility, Western Australia (Serco)
  • Junee Correctional Centre, NSW (Geo Group)
  • Parklea Correctional Centre, NSW (Geo Group)
  • Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, Queensland (Geo Group)
  • Borallan Correctional Centre, Queensland (Serco)
  • Southern Queensland Correctional Centre (Serco)
  • Mt Gambier Prison, South Australia (G4S)
  • Fulham Correctional Centre, Victoria (Geo Group)
  • Port Phillip Prison, Victoria (G4S)

G4S and Serco also run prisoner transport services, including prisoner transport services in Victoria (G4S) and Western Australian prisoner transport and court security services in WA (Serco).

Even though Australia has the highest proportion of prisoners in private (corporate) run prisons in the world, State Governments have plans to radically expand the number of private prisons. In Queensland the Newman Government has established a secret Task Force to develop an plan to hand over all Queensland's prisons to the corporate sector.

In Western Australia, the Barnett Government and the Minister responsible for Prisons have made it clear that more private corporate run prisons are central to their reform agenda. 

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