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In August 2004 the ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope announced that the ACT would have a new prison. This would be the first prison in the ACT and would be named after Alexander Maconochie who is described in Wikipedia as follows: "

According to his biographer John Barry, Maconochie “was a deeply religious man, of generous and compassionate temperament, and convinced of the dignity of man.” His two basic principles of penology were that:

as cruelty debases both the victim and society, punishment should not be vindictive but should aim at the reform of the convict to observe social constraints, and
a convict's imprisonment should consist of task, not time sentences, with release depending on the performance of a measurable amount of labour."

When he announced the new prison the Chief Minister identified within that announcement a number goals and objectives for the new prison. This report card identifies those goals and objectives and will report on the progress toward achieving them.

 Find the Chief Minister's statement here >>>            Find the Chief Minister's speech on Hansard here >>>>>


Goals and Objectives


1. Building

1.    A new 139-bed remand centre to replace the Belconnen Remand Centre, replace the Symonston Temporary Remand Centre and will include a 175-bed facility for sentenced prisoners and a 60-bed Transitional Release Centre for low risk prisoners who are in the final stages of their sentences and being prepared for their return to our community.


2.    Estimated capital costs for the prison are $103.45m, with the operation of the facility expected to cost approximately $19.635m pa (as at May 2003) subject to normal cost escalation over the life of the project.


3.    A medical centre will be provided in the prison, which will reflect a community health centre, rather than an institutional design.


4.    A sacred space embracing Indigenous and non-Indigenous elements will be an important feature of the centre setting.


2. Culture

The AMC will be a “Healthy Prison” in which everyone is and feels safe and is treated with respect as a fellow human being - a place that encourages a prisoner to improve himself or herself and is given the opportunity to do so through the provision of purposeful activity, is enabled to maintain contact with their families and is prepared for release.


3. Human Rights

The Operating Philosophy and the Operating Model of the ACT prison is founded on the ACT Human Rights Act 2004. 


4. Health

1.    The ACT will embrace best practice correctional health models in the delivery of health services.


2.    Prisoners will be able to access health services comparable to those accessible to the rest of the community.  


3.    A primary concern in the delivery of health services in the correctional context is to ensure that the prison does not become a crucible of contamination and thereby potentially compromise community health.


4.    The goals of health services in the correctional setting include those of minimising self-harm, to reducing dependency on drugs, addressing mental health issues and promoting a healthy lifestyle. 


5.    The health and well being of the ACT prisoner population will be improved through the application of integrated health management services with programs targeted at reducing drug and alcohol addictions, making improvements in mental health, minimising self-harm, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and addressing the particular health and well-being of special needs and minority groups.


6.    Mental health care to prisoners will include the provision of both acute and long-term mental health care services and their integration with community-based services


5. Drugs

1.    Illicit drugs pose one of the most serious problems in prisons.  Drug use can cause death or serious illness (through overdosing), spread blood borne viruses and diseases such as AIDS/HIV and Hepatitis B and C, react badly with prescribed drugs, cause violent behaviour, jeopardise rehabilitation, and impact negatively on families. The main objectives will be to ensure the security and safety of prisoners, staff and visitors.


2.    Prison drug and alcohol policies and practices will be an integral part of prison management, addressing health care, rehabilitation and reintegration, and administration and discipline. 


3.    Drug use, particularly injecting drug use behaviour, presents as an Occupational Health and Safety risk to staff, other prisoners and visitors. 


4.    The policy of harm minimisation will be adopted. 


5.    Drug detection measures will be set and will include drug detection dogs as well as appropriate technology and services provided by the Australian Federal Police.


6.    Treatment programs will include safe withdrawal and rehabilitative treatment will be provided. They will include counselling, psychological therapy and behaviour modification and health issues related to alcohol and drugs will be addressed.


7.    Drug and alcohol education programs dealing with the safe use of alcohol, controlled drinking strategies, safe injecting practices, safe sexual behaviour, drink-drive programs and quit smoking programs will be provided in the prison


6. Staff

1.    The staff of the prison will be the key to its success; they will be screened, recruited, trained and supported to meet the diverse demands required of them.  A positive prison culture will lower the institutional “temperature”, reduce prisoner stress, frustration, boredom, violence and minimise the risks of harm to prisoners and staff.


2.    The recruitment and training of staff in custodial services and programs, industrial, education, training and health services will target and develop officers who are qualified, focused, skilled, sensitive and communicative.


3.    The Operating Philosophy will provide for clear competency standards, performance-based management and the imposition of sanctions for poor performance.


7. Prisoners

1.    The AMC will be a secure, safe and humane place that will have a positive effect on the lives of prisoners held there and on staff who work there. Offenders are sent to prison “as punishment, not for punishment”.


2.    The exposure of ACT prisoners to the negative impacts of a large correctional system will be avoided.  


3.    The ACT will protect prisoners at risk, particularly from self-harm, violent assault and blood borne diseases.


4.    Programs and activities for prisoners will be based on individual assessment of each prisoner as the foundation of individual Case Plans.  A multi-disciplinary and indeed multi-agency approach to program delivery and Case Management will be adopted.  This will include involvement of other government and community agencies, where appropriate, in the provision of services, such as family and individual counseling, health, education and vocational training.


5.    Prisoners will, through incentive-based regimes, exercise increasing levels of decision-making, assume greater levels of responsibility and will be placed in accommodation which reflects this.  To achieve the integration of the prisoner’s Case and Sentence Plans and health planning, there will be a Structured Day of meaningful work, programs (including visits) and recreation


6.    Improvements in prisoner educational attainments will be targeted.


7.    Vocational training, and employment opportunities will be provided to aid rehabilitation, develop prisoners’ work ethics and reduce prison costs.


8.    Recreation activities will include sport, painting (including Indigenous art) and hobbies.


8. Prisoners Indigenous

The management of the correctional centre will engage with Indigenous groups and Indigenous leadership in the management of Indigenous people placed in the care and custody of ACT Corrective Services. 


9. Prisoners Women

Four principles will underpin the management of women prisoners:

1.                    Personal responsibility and empowerment of the individual. Prison staff will give women in their care the power to make such decisions and accept that as their personal responsibility. Where it is determined to be in the best interests of a child, provision will be made for the child up to the age of three to reside with the mother in custody.  Of necessity, the safety and well being of the child would always be the priority. 


2.                    Family responsibility. Mothers and primary carers will be provided with maximum contact with their families and children and provided with programs and support directed at improving relationship and parenting skills.


3.                    Community responsibility. Prisoners will be encouraged to become engaged with members of the community, develop a sense of community responsibility and to set in place post release support arrangements.


4.                    Respect and integrity. Services provided within the prison will be gender and culturally appropriate and will respect the dignity of people and the differences between them.  A key element in this is honesty and truthfulness. 


10. Prisoners Throughcare

1.    Effective Throughcare arrangements will be implemented that engage family and close associates in the behavioral change process while the prisoner is incarcerated and ensures support to the prisoner as he or she re-enters society.


2.    The Throughcare approach will focus on providing an appropriate continuum of health care, in particular addressing substance abuse and mental health issues.  It will also involve the development, monitoring of individual Case and Sentence Plans and their integration with individual health planning by ACT Health.


11. Rehabilitation

The ACT prison, through careful planning and community involvement will offer prisoners opportunities inviting them to rehabilitate and re-integrate with the ACT community.


12. Recidivism

Rates of recidivism will be reduced through the application of a broad range of therapeutic and behaviour management prison programs which offer choice, flexibility, are research-based, well-managed, appropriately resourced, and evaluated to determine their effectiveness. 


From Hansard ACT Legislative Assembly (Question No 1708)

Mr Seselja asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 27 September 2007:

(1) In relation to rates of recidivism for people 
sentenced to prison in ACT Courts in each year 
from 2000 to 2007, what percentage of (a) 
prisoners by category of offence released from 
NSW prisons on behalf of the ACT return to prison within two years and (b) people by category of offence released from remand in the ACT return to prison/remand within two years;

(2) What is the projected recidivism rate being 
applied to planning for the Alexander Maconochie centre.

Mr Corbell: The answer to the member's question is as follows:

(1) The ACT does not report on recidivism as an indicator.

(a) This data is not presently disaggregated from 
NSW data; however, ACT Corrective Services is 
working towards collating the data for input into 
its database system when the Alexander Maconochie Centre is in operation.

(b) Refer to (a).

(2) The projected recidivism rate for the 
Alexander Maconochie Centre will initially be 
benchmarked against the national recidivism rate.


13. Family

1.          Prisoners will have greater accessibility to, and interaction with, family and other supports to assist in their rehabilitation and to maintain family unity.

2.        Visits will be available seven days a week with specific periods being set aside for family visits and for professional visits.


3.        Program staff will assist prisoners to gain the most from their visits, which may take place in relatively private family rooms in addition to the normal visits area.


14. Community

1.    Linkages with community-based and appropriately accredited programs and services will be fostered to provide support for re-settlement. The local community and families will, where appropriate, be involved in prisoner rehabilitation programs.



2.    Community will be engaged in the management of its prisoners and in the support of prison management


Drawn from the Ministerial Statement presented to the Legislative Assembly by the Attorney General Mr Jon Stanhope MLA August 2004.