26 September 2023

Prison audit causes a stir

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A performance audit of the rehabilitation capability of Ravenhall Prison has found that its ability to achieve prisoner rehabilitation objectives was significantly compromised.

In his report, Ravenhall Prison: Rehabilitating and Reintegrating Prisoners, Auditor-General, Andrew Greaves made three recommendations which have been accepted by the Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS).

“A prison sentence is not enough to break the cycle of reoffending if the underlying issues that contribute to it are not addressed,” Mr Greaves said.

“Privately operated by the GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd (GEO), it [Ravenhall Correctional Centre] was designed to trial new rehabilitation methods that focus on reducing reoffending,” he said.

Mr Greaves said the audit assessed whether Corrections Victoria and GEO had set up a strategic and operational environment at Ravenhall to help reduce recidivism.

He said Corrections Victoria’s decision to increase the number of places for remand prisoners, and the higher than expected proportion of short stay sentenced prisoners, made GEO’s model for reducing recidivism less relevant to its prisoner population.

He said further gaps and flaws in Corrections Victoria’s performance and evaluation framework meant it wasn’t possible for the State to learn the outcomes of the unique features of the Ravenhall model on reducing recidivism.

“Corrections Victoria also does not have an evaluation framework to assess the actual link, if any, between GEO’s rehabilitation interventions and its recidivism outcomes,” Mr Greaves said.

“The absence of an evaluation framework to understand Ravenhall’s results is a significant missed opportunity.”

He said the Audit compared Ravenhall’s model to the public system and found that Corrections Victoria’s Reintegration Pathway and GEO’s Continuum of Care model were aligned.

Mr Greaves recommended the DJCS review and revise key performance indicators; develop and implement an evaluation framework to assess reoffending outcomes at Ravenhall Correctional Centre; and advise Government on the costs and benefits of different mixes of remand and short-stay prisoners compared to longer stay sentenced prisoners at Ravenhall.

The Auditor-General’s 65-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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