Tasmania looks to remove early prisoner releases for good behaviour

Community and Public Sector Union state secretary Tom Lynch
Community and Public Sector Union state secretary Tom Lynch

The government will need to explain how prisoners will be housed as incarceration rates increase and remissions for good behaviour are removed, the CPSU says.

At present, the Director of Prisons can grant a prisoner a remission on their sentence for up to three months.

The government intends to take this discretion away through new legislation.

When an offender is convicted and sentenced for a crime, they should do the time.

Corrections Minister Elise Archer

After releasing the draft law for consultation on Tuesday, Corrections Minister Elise Archer said granting remissions was outdated and out of line with other states.

“When an offender is convicted and sentenced for a crime, they should do the time,” Ms Archer said.

“Obviously, with the removal of remissions, it is important that we incentivise good behaviour in the prisons … like allowing more family access, more visitation rights, and greater access to leisure activities.”

​Community and Public Sector Union state secretary Tom Lynch said the prospect of remissions for prisoners was an important tool for a correctional officer.

“A well-run, clear and well-understood remission system can serve as a significant disincentive for in-mates to break the rules in the prison, including assaulting officers,” he said. 

“We would have thought a principle objective in making any change to remissions would have been to make our prisons as safe as possible for the staff working within them but this doesn’t seem to be a consideration in this review.

“With the entire prison system full to bursting, it is incumbent on a government who wants to lock up more Tasmanians for longer to explain how they intend to house them.”

The government will take feedback on the legislation until Friday, October 20.

The government in 2015 amended legislation to remove the eligibility for remissions for convicted sex offenders who either refused to participate in treatment programs or did so unsatisfactorily.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Council next week will consider a motion on whether to debate legislation to allow for mandatory sentencing of serious child sex offences.

The legislation was previously voted down by the upper house.