Expanding "demand and cost pressures" in Tasmanian prisons has resulted in a significant funding injection from the government, targeted at improving prisoner rehabilitation programs.
The 2020-21 budget detailed a further increase in the state's prisoner reoffending rate, in which 56.5 per cent of prisoners are returning to corrective services within two years, an incremental increase on previous years.
The government has repeatedly failed to meet its target of bringing this down to 48 per cent.
BUDGET 2020-21: Your guide to the budget for Northern Tasmania
While spending on the Tasmanian Prison Service was as forecast in 2019-20, the increases will start from now.
They include a $4.2 million increase in 2020-21, a $9.6 million increase in 2021-22 and $12.2 million more in 2022-23 to a total of $104 million per annum. This was originally forecast to be $89.2 million.
Budget papers describe this as responding to "increasing demand and cost pressures", as well as helping to fund the upgraded Southern Remand Centre.
Attorney-General Elise Archer said this would cater for increased prisoner numbers and costs for staffing, hospital and transport requirements.
She said it would also support prisoner reintegration, education and therapeutic support services to improve rehabilitation.
"We remain committed to addressing the challenges facing the state's corrections system, and this is evident in this budget, with significant investment in supporting the continued and sustained operations of our correctional facilities," she said.
Budget outlines projected prison spending
The Northern Regional Prison appeared in the budget for the first time.
The government has provided $4.2 million in 2020-21 and forecast to spend $7.8 million in 2021-22, $32.6 million in 2022-23 and $66.5 million in 2023-24, when significant works are expected to ramp up - approvals pending.
Upgrades to the Ashley Youth Justice Centre were delayed during the last 12 months - the budget revealed - with a government spokesperson claiming this was due to additional time needed to ensure the redesign conformed to modern justice standards.
The upgrades will receive $4.2 million in 2020-21 and $2.1 million the following year, with no funding spent in the past financial year despite it initially being allocated.
Court backlog continues to grow
Waiting lists for criminal and civil courts continued to miss targets in Tasmania.
The government set a target of having 29 per cent of Supreme Court criminal matters to be completed under 12 months in 2019-20, but the final outcome was 38.8 per cent.
The magistrates' court had a target of 30 per cent, but in the end, 38.5 per cent of matters took more than 12 months.
The figures were similar for civil matters.
The national standard is set at 10 per cent, but the budget pointed out that no Australian jurisdictions were meeting this, with the average just over 25 per cent.
"It should also be noted that a relatively small number of cases can have a significant impact on court indicators in Tasmania," the budget papers read.
"Criminal lodgements to the Supreme Court in 2019-20 were 647, having increased by 44 per cent since 2015-16."
In an attempt to address this, the government has added additional judicial time, put in place measures for more active case management and attempted to streamline bail applications.