26 September 2023

Research studies needs of older prisoners

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Corrective Services in the Department of Justice, is researching ways to best accommodate and meet the needs of older persons in prisons.

According to the Commissioner for Corrective Services, Mike Reynolds, prison populations around the world were ageing and Western Australia was no exception.

“Risk assessment tools used for all prisoners take into account fitness for travel, upper bunk bed allocation, involvement in sporting activities and the potential for falls,” Commissioner Reynolds said.

“While current management procedures are working, it is clear that as the percentage of people in custody aged 50 or over grows, some specific strategies need to be implemented.”

He said older prisoners’ needs could vary greatly.

“Some require little to no additional support, some need to be separated from the mainstream population for their protection, and others require high-level health care around the clock,” Commissioner Reynolds said.

“The expansion of Casuarina Prison will include an Assisted Care Unit, which will have community-equivalent nursing home care for those prisoners with the highest level of need.”

He said future planning would also take into account the small percentage of older female prisoners, and options for male prisoners who had a lower level of need.

Commissioner Reynolds said the Department welcomed a report by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services that reviewed the current management of older prisoners in the State.

“All three recommendations from the inspector are supported in principle, with work already under way to investigate an optimal model of care for these individuals,” he said.

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