Bill Byrne
Bill Byrne Kevin Farmer

Should low security prison 'farms' be used for long serving offenders?

ON MONDAY, a man serving time for armed robbery escaped the Capricornia Correctional Centre's low security 'farm'.

Although he was back behind bars within 24 hours, the breakout brought the minimum security arm of the facility and the Department of Corrections into the spotlight.

Member for Rockhampton and former Minister for Corrective Services, Bill Byrne spoke earlier this month about low security prison farms and their positive role in prisoner rehabilitation.

Mr Byrne said they used to function as an incentive for compliant behaviour in long-serving prisoners, but this practice had been stopped.

"Now once upon a time, because everybody knew they were of no threat to anybody, they were put on the farms or into work camps and others with less security,” Mr Byrne said.

"There's been a new policy where anybody with certain types of offences or lengths of certain sentences stay in high security, no matter what their temperament is.”

For Mr Byrne, this presents an issue.

He believes incentivising positive behaviour is a step towards rehabilitation and assimilation when the prisoner is finally released.

"I would like to think that going to the farms or work camps was seen as a reward for compliance, progress, good attitude, all those things we're trying to deliver out of a prison system,” Mr Byrne said.

"Prison isn't just about deterrence.

"Firstly, it's about deterring people from offending and therefore it has to have a deterrent value and it has to be not easy.

But Mr Byrne said that once prisoners were in the system, there was an obligation to make sure they were release at some point and weren't returned in "five minutes”.

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