A paroled prisoner seeking rehabilitation says he has been unable to get the help he needs due to his criminal history.
Caine Robert Richardson has a record dating back more than a decade, and it's not the first time his name has been printed in a newspaper.
Battling a history of drug abuse that stems back to his childhood, the 30-year-old wants to rid himself of his convicted criminal status and help others caught up in the vicious cycle of drug-related offending.
But when the Launceston father sought out intensive residential rehabilitation, he was told he was too high-risk.
IN OTHER NEWS
Released from his latest stint in Risdon in November, Mr Richardson was placed on the court-mandated drug diversion program.
The program requires he seek out a rehabilitation service.
Reaching out to Missiondale Recovery Centre at Evandale, he said he was described as an "unacceptable risk to the facility" due to his "extreme antisocial behaviour in the past".
City Mission operations manager for drug and alcohol services and accommodation services Stephen Hill said the risk assessment process for its Missiondale programs was "complex".
"We do take people with a mixed background, but we also deem some people's physical health and mental health outside of the boundaries of what we can do," he said.
"It is to make sure the people we have coming in are safe and people already in the program are safe."
Missiondale is the only residential rehabilitation facility of its kind in the North, while the Salvation Army operates a residential program on the North-West Coast and in Hobart.
It is a gap in the system Mr Richardson's lawyer, Evan Hughes, said affected many of his clients.
"There seems to be people who are looking for help who can't get it, there seems to be people who are possibly in the too-hard basket, which is a shame, because the too-hard basket people are the ones that cause the most harm in the community, so we should really be focusing on them," he said.
"People rehabilitating completely saves the community a lot of heartache.
"It is one less person coming through court, it is one less crime committed against a person, there's a benefit to society."
IN OTHER NEWS
While offenders have access to rehabilitation programs during their time in Risdon, Mr Hughes said the transitional period from being incarcerated to establishing a life back in the community was just as important.
"It is very tempting to fall back into old ways once released from custody, people have friendships and associates that are not good influences, it's easy to fall back into those patterns and then fall back into offending, so intensive assistance upon release is really important.
"People who have drug addictions aren't just the simple circumstance of someone who just used drugs from a certain time and continued to use them, often it's a product of other problems."
While there was a 29 per cent decrease in drug offenders caught by Tasmania Police in the last financial year, police still recorded nearly 3000 drug offenders during 2018-19.
"It's an insidious disease being addicted to an illicit substance, methamphetamine is particularly evil, it causes changes in people's personalities, their priorities, and turns them into very different people," Mr Hughes said.
In a desperate bid to access help, Mr Richardson reached out to both the state government and the Opposition in August 2018.
In an email to former Premier Will Hodgman, Mr Richardson detailed his spiralling mental health.
"I am emailing you Mr Hodgman as I am in dire need of professional help and I am hoping that by emailing you things can be fast tracked," he wrote.
Less than three months later, his struggles culminated with a siege at Prospect Vale, which saw him back behind bars.
Following the siege, he received a letter from Labor Leader Rebecca White and was put in touch with the party's corrections spokeswoman Ella Haddad.
Ms Haddad contacted a Hobart support service on behalf of Mr Richardson, but that service could only offer him a non-residential program.
"Cases like this demonstrate that more needs to be done to provide the services needed to support people to reintegrate into the community after being in prison," Ms Haddad said.
"Specifically, there needs to be greater investment in a range of treatment options for alcohol and other drugs, particularly in the North and North-West of the state.
"It's a perverse outcome that someone attempting to comply with the conditions of their release from prison is unable to because the services set up to provide the support he needs refuse to take him on."
Mr Richardson has now been out of prison for three months, and has contacted upwards of 15 interstate rehabilitation services, with no luck.
He said his daughter was his "biggest driving force".
"I understand now, I have learned the hard way I need to take responsibility," he said.
"I have an eight-year-old daughter, I don't want her growing up believing I chose drugs and crime over raising her."
THE VICIOUS CYCLE
It was revealed last year that nearly half of the state's prisoners were back behind bars within two years of being released, with recidivism rates rising to 46.3 per cent.
It's a problem prisoner advocate Greg Barns said he had been highlighting for more than a decade.
"There is a chronic failure on the part of governments, for many years, to adequately fund service providers so they can care for and support individuals who are very vulnerable when they come back into the community," the Prison Legal Service chairman said.
Referring to Mr Richardson's case in particular, Mr Barns described it as "particularly outrageous".
"It is typical of the experience returning citizens have when they leave prison," he said.
"Mr Richardson has been institutionalised, he is a person who the government ought to be supporting and the service provider out to be funded so they can support him.
"It is much cheaper for taxpayers than people re-offending and being sent back to prison, prison is an expensive option, it helps no-one and the government is better off putting resources into services like Missiondale."
The growing number of inmates in Risdon Prison Complex has been at the centre of public criticism in recent years.
The state government promised to build a second prison in the North of the state, with 46 per cent of prisoners said to be from the region.
The $270 million northern project is expected to house 270 prisoners and remandees.
In addition to the new facility, the government promised $6 million for alcohol and drug services.
"We recognise the importance of supporting individuals who require rehabilitation services," Mental Health and Wellbeing Minister Jeremy Rockliff said.
"This resulted in 31 new rehabilitation beds, which are being jointly-provided by the Salvation Army and City Mission, and brings the number of beds to more than 100 across the state.
"This is in addition to $2.5 million to secure the 12 new residential rehabilitation beds in the North-West for three additional years."
That financial commitment, however, was slammed by Mr Barns.
"You can see the warped priorities of the government, which is prepared to spend $260 million on warehousing people, but only $6 million on drug and alcohol services, that says they are not interested in reducing crime," he said.
If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.