More inmates escaped from prisons in NSW than any other state or territory, while the state also leads the country in deaths in custody and prisoner on prisoner assaults according to a scathing new report.

The Productivity Commission into Corrective Services in Australia report also reveals NSW prisons were operating at 122 percent capacity throughout 2016-17. The NSW prison population has sat at around 13,000 since late 2016- roughly 2,000 more than it is designed for.

Some of the findings include:

  • NSW has the highest number of prisoner on prisoner assaults with 27.48 per 100 inmates. Prisoners also spend the least amount of time out of their cells than their state counterparts.
  • 12 out of 15 deaths in Australian prisons from apparent unnatural causes occurred in NSW prisons. Earlier this month, an inmate was beaten to death by another inmate at Silverwater Prison.
  • NSW lags in prisoner training and education with only 24 percent of eligible prisoners completing some form of either one. Studies have shown that educational programs are key to successfully rehabilitating prisoners, and therefore reduce the likelihood of recidivism. 

Corrections Officers have also warned the public to sleep with ‘one eye open’ because some of the most dangerous inmates are being released prematurely. Figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics show there was a large increase in the number of inmates being released on parole between 2014-17. There was an average increase of 35 percent more offenders released on parole during this period.

CSNSW Officers have also spoken out about how easy it is for inmates to obtain contraband, either by visitors smuggling it in or by bribing guards. NSW Labor has previously revealed how drones are being used to drop in contraband while ‘sweeps’ of cells are only uncovering drugs and mobile phones after they have been inside prisons for a period of time.

NSW Labor also shares the concerns of the Public Service Association of NSW that benchmarking by CSNSW will result in the loss of at least 224 Corrective Services staff.