Greens call on State Government to end use of solitary confinement for people with a disability in NSW prisons

NSW Greens MP and Disability spokesperson, Dawn Walker has called on the State Government to end the practice of solitary confinement for people with a disability in NSW prisons following the release of a report by Human Rights Watch.

“People with disabilities are over-represented in the correctional system in Australia, with an estimated 50% of people in our prison system having some form of disability.

“What this report makes clear is that people with a disability are regularly subjected to physical and mental neglect and abuse within our prison system. This is markedly worse for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners with a disability.

“I’m concerned that prisons in NSW are failing to adequately identify people with disabilities and are ill-equipped to meet their needs. This is resulting in the behaviour of some prisoners with a mental health condition or cognitive disability being mistaken as deliberate disobedience, and staff who aren’t receiving adequate training sending them to solitary confinement, which causes extreme psychological harm.    

“The Human Rights Watch report found that some prisoners are locked in solitary confinement for 22 hours a day, for weeks and sometimes months.

"State and federal governments must end the damaging use of solitary confinement for prisoners with disabilities and introduce more effectively methods to screen prisoners for disabilities as they enter the correctional system so that appropriate services can be provided.

“We also should ensure that all prison staff receive regular gender and culturally sensitive training on how to interact with people with disabilities to uphold their rights and welfare.

“The Greens are calling on the NSW Minister for Corrections to adopt the key recommendations of this important Human Rights Watch report and request that the Inspector of Custodial Services launch a review into the conditions of people with a disability within the NSW correctional system with a view to ending the practice of solitary confinement for people with disabilities” said Dawn Walker MP.

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