Pregnant woman’s treatment in Bandyup barbaric: Greens

Greens spokesperson for Corrective Services Hon Alison Xamon MLC is appalled by findings presented in the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services latest report - The birth at Bandyup Women’s Prison in March 2018.

“The inspector has only released a summary of his report as the information contained in the full report was too sensitive and distressing to be publicly released, however even the summary is heart wrenching,” Ms Xamon said.

The woman was alone in a locked cell, in obvious need of medical attention, yet when nursing staff attended they could not access the cell because no one had the foresight to get the key from the senior staff member in the gatehouse, despite the woman being in acute distress for an hour.

“It is hard to fathom how these events could have unfolded – I echo the inspector’s incredulous comments about this type of incident being allowed to occur in the 21st century,” she said.

“These series of events are not only distressing and degrading, they also represent an unacceptable risk to a mother and her baby – women and babies have a right to be safe.

As pointed out by the inspector, the findings of this report just adds to long term failings recognised time and again by the Inspector but not acted upon by the minister.

Ms Xamon said “The unfortunate reality is that pregnant women in custody is not a rare occurrence, – women and their unborn children, must be appropriately cared for and clearly this is not happening.”

“Quite possibly this woman shouldn’t have been in jail in the first place.  She had been granted bail but couldn’t meet the bail conditions.  While I don’t have the particular details of this case, we know that often bail conditions are not met because of a lack of suitable accommodation.

“We should be doing more to ensure that people are not put in prison just because they do not have stable housing in the community” she said.

“This report is exactly why we need the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services and independent oversight of prisons and I commend Inspector Morgan on this report.

Much of the work undertaken by the inspector’s Office this year has been in response to incidents like the recent report into mental health in prisons and the report earlier in the year into confinement at Banksia Hill. 

“These are not scheduled inquiries, they are being done because things are going wrong and they are going wrong too often.”

In every report the inspector has identified failures in record keeping. 

“I have raised the need for better record keeping on many occasions this year alone.  In such difficult environments the need for openness and transparency is crucial and good record keeping is the foundation of this.”

“Once again, we have been presented with alarming evidence of systemic failings in corrective services and I call on the minister to take urgent action to bring our prisons into the 21st century”.