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Catholic Prison Ministry

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Presentation on theme: "Catholic Prison Ministry"— Presentation transcript:

1 Catholic Prison Ministry
United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners 1955, Rule 82(1)…”persons who are found to be insane shall not be detained in prisons and arrangements shall be made to remove them to mental institutions as soon as possible” Greenberg et all (2003)

2 Catholic Prison Ministry evolved
in 1985 to respond to the inhumane and unjust treatment of men and women in prison. It began from a reform movement which emerged to combat these injustices from St Mary’s Church in South Brisbane.

3 CPM’s Mission To respond to the issues faced by people affected by the criminal justice system: in court, in prison, in community corrections, in families and in the wider community, and; To do this by encouraging personal and social change which promotes and maintains human dignity and peace in the community Unfortunately the core issues resulting in the development of CPM is still alive and living in the prison system and in the larger community today. It is not my intention today to talk of the larger issues associated with the criminal justice system and more specifically the prison system, but I will say that the ambivalence in the community to the prison system, and the staking of fear that has been the political angle in Australia for close to 10 years now, has lead to a prison system that answers only to itself. Any system of power answerable only to its own standards, in my opinion, is dangerous.

4 CPM promotes a restorative justice system.
prison must be an option of absolute last resort, used only when a person poses a threat to the safety and peace of the community. the aim of the criminal justice system must be to bring about reconciliation and restoration, rather than incrimination and retribution. justice must be regarded as a community responsibility. Crime is not an individual problem. Social inequalities and injustices influence and give rise to crime. justice must be founded on the restoration of peace and right relationships in the community, not on the judgment and punishment of others. we believe people will usually make the choice to live a lawful lifestyle when they are supported in an environment affirming their self worth and providing for their basic needs.

5 CPM Services Are: ‘Getting out Support Program’ – providing pre and post release support to men at Borallon, Wolston and the former SDL prisons. Prisoners from other facilities including farms and work release are also welcome to contact our service via mail or phone. Once released any former prisoner may access our services. CPM works with over 500 prisoners a year through this program. CPM is the only service to go into male prisons for pre and post release support.

6 CPM Pre and Post Release Service
Support provided includes: Organising accommodation for their release and providing on-going assistance to maintain accommodation; Assisting prisoners to apply for and get identification before their release, when necessary; Assisting, where appropriate, the delivery of transitions programs operated by the correctional centres preparing men for their release; Providing on-going support and counselling once released; Linking to appropriate community mental health services, disability services, indigenous services or other support services as necessary. This includes shared case management. Linking into employment services (up-coming co-location with Centacare Employment PSP worker)

7 Other CPM Services Family Support Program - supports family members and significant others who have a loved one affected by the criminal justice system; Court Support Program – this program provides support at 7 court across South-East Qld supporting families, defendants and victims through the court process; Liferaft – support group for family members or significant others affected by the prison system; Advocacy – CPM advocates for prisoner and their families for systemic and individual issues affecting them in the prison system.

8 Diversity of Clients Mental health and disability issues
Acquired brain injury Intellectual disability Profound deafness Spinal Injury Paraplegia Dementia Schizophrenia Bi-polar Blindness And the list goes on Complicated by existing diseases and other issues such as AIDS Hep C Drug and alcohol issues Sexual abuse Social isolation and more As CPM’s mission and focus is to work with the most marginalized individuals. Our client group can be categorized at the extreme end of those marginalized in our community. To give you an idea of the diversity of issues we work with I looked back over the last few months and these were the kind of mental health and disability issues clients were dealing with:

9 View of ‘Offenders’ Outside the system – individual seen firstly with disability or mental health issue then as a person Within the system – seen first as an offender, then Steve Smith, then with a conditional/illness troublesome to their ‘management’ Say before slide – Mental Health Services within the prison as Robert will talk about are looked after by Department of Health. Recent commitment by Queensland government to radically increase the resources of Mental Health in the system is well overdue and warmly received by advocates of change in the system and Corrective Services themselves. It is essential to the increased care of prisoners dealing with mental health issues. These Mental Health services work effectively and proficiently in the management of medication and monitoring of clients with mental health needs. Outside this service is the management of these individuals within the programs and functioning of the Correctional Centres in which they are held and it is this management that I will be discussing today. Start slide - They within the system are there primarily for punishment, secondly for containment and finally for rehabilitation and treatment, should they fit within the set programs offered within the system. Coming from work in other areas of human services the concept when working with clients is to work within a flexible framework that will best fit with the client and the clients needs. Central to this concept is client involvement and input in their support which is CPM’s focus. However within the prison system they are treated in the reverse. Individuals must fit the system or it is seen as a failing of the individual or unwillingness to address their offending behavior, therefore they must fit or fail by remaining in the system to fulltime or even be hit with an ongoing Supervision Order after the end of their sentence due to on-going risk to the community something that is being attached to an alarming number of inmates. Family and social relationships are significantly tested by offending behaviour of people with disabilities. They often exhibit other anti-social and inappropriate behaviour that has already strained possible family and social networks and offending behaviour serves to further alienate the individual as the stigma of going to prison is added to the equation.

10 Diversionary Recommendations
Recent Special Circumstances Court – works with people who have been charged with minor offences who have impaired capacity. A welcome addition requires additional resourcing of community sector; (Intellectual) Disability Diversionary Court – such as been established in WA; In NSW, magistrates have a discretion to dismiss a charge against a person with a developmental disability or psychiatric disorder, they must also stipulate that this is on the priviso that the individual cooperates with assessment and treatment; Mainstream sentencing alternatives currently not options used by courts due to under-resourced community corrections and appropriate community services necessary for the support of the individuals being diverted.

11 Diversionary Programs
Alternative and diversionary programs are often deemed not suitable for particular groups with potentially high needs. This is usually framed with regard to their inability to properly comply with the process. Need for the program to be more flexible and offer people with cognitive disabilities or mental health issues with a greater level of support Needs of this group of people are diverse and resource intensive: The needs of this group vary but range across – supported coordination/ case management, clinical intervention directed at the offending behaviour, education and training, accommodation and related support, alcohol and other drugs services, mental health services and flexible approaches to promote acceptance of services. There needs to be a flexible and coordinated response from specialized agencies, including specialist disability services and Indigenous services. The needs of individuals who are affected by the criminal justice system often require specialized support services familiar with the needs of those affected by the criminal justice system.

12 Within Correctional Facilities
Current programs – accessible only with necessary literacy levels and comprehension. No alternatives offered. Individual presenting in the prison system with a disability can ‘disguise’ their disability quite well. Little or no records of past assessment for disability Current prison offender programs are only accessible to individuals with a Year 9 level of literacy and moderate or above comprehension levels. Without meeting these criteria individuals are ineligible for these programs. Offender programs are an essential element necessary for inmates to gain parole, conditional release or progress through the system to low security facilities such as farms. Inmates with mental health issues or intellectual disabilities are often required to do literacy courses first before participating in offender programs. Comprehension levels for people with intellectual disabilities are unlikely to change significantly to partake in pre-existing course; and, delusions or psychosis for mental health clients may not significantly change to effect their comprehension levels in these settings either. Access to individual counseling is all but stopped. A recent Anti-Discrimination case for a man unable to access offender programs due to a mild intellectual disability and low literacy levels was able to get individual counseling through the Corrective Services system. This as yet has not been offered in other cases and is unlikely to become a standard feature offered to individuals with intellectual disability in prison due to a stated lack of resources and the high rate of individuals it would apply to. Individual presenting in the prison system with an intellectual disability often ‘disguise’ their disability quite well. They are ‘streetwise’ and often do not identify themselves with a disability nor have the interest in associating with others with a disability. Many require significant assistance in developing skills in impulse control, communication, and likely increased vulnerability to peer pressure. Many, like all other inmates, also have drug and alcohol issues. Many come to the system with extensive exposure to institutional settings and little or no access to records that indicate level of education, comprehension and level of disability. Some having contradictory information recorded on their files, the basis of which is used for further Classifications, and availability of offender programs. Individuals with intellectual disability or mental health issues may present with behaviours that is seen as contrary to directions given to them, emotional outbursts and behaviour that is seen as unstable and disruptive. Within the prison system this would mean they would frequently be regarded as high risk prisoners and housed in locked down or secure units; they would frequently be given breaches and taken to the Detention Units. This is described aptly in the PACCOA (Probation and Community Corrections Officers Association) Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health, 2005 (p.9):Inmates who suffer from mental illness are more likely to be perceived to be less malleable to gaol culture, more conspicuous, more fragile and less tractable than other inmates, therefore more in need of control – often in the form of tightened punitive measures. Mentally ill people are more likely to suffer discrimination within prison and victimization and exploitation from other inmates.

13 Within Correctional Facilities
Recommendations Common place assessment for all inmates coming into the system so that mental health issues including dual diagnosis and intellectual disability are identified. To inform their support and programs offered to these individuals. This must include in some cases the availability of individual counseling. Rehabilitation for all prisoners should be central focus of incarceration and therefore inmates (clients) need to be central to their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community. Key elements of therapeutic support in any other capacity. Individuals with diagnosed psychiatric conditions and disability should be appropriately managed outside the prison system It should be common place for all inmates coming into the system to be appropriately assessed for mental health issues including drug induced psychosis, and intellectual disabilities as these assessments should inform their support and programs offered to these individuals during their sentence, or if on remand their sentencing. Rehabilitation for all prisoners should be the central focus of incarceration and therefore inmates (clients) need to be central to their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community. Concepts that are held as pinnacles and key to therapeutic supports in any other capacity. This would require an large intellectual shift in the management of the system. It is also essential that programs available to inmates are responding to their offending behaviour whilst identifying and responding to individual needs and requirements, in many cases individuals with intellectual disability and mental health issues will require individual counseling. Dual diagnosis is an essential element that requires addressing. There is currently no drug and alcohol programs offered in Queensland prisons, outside of AA programs. This kind of program requires participants to have incite into their behaviour and addiction, however individuals with mental illness will often not have these incites due to the nature of their illness.

14 Post Release Support Individual specialised case management with flexible service delivery is essential to meet needs of this group, particularly around transitional support. Family and social relationships are significantly tested by offending behaviour and subsequent imprisonment. This requires significant resources to assist in the re-establishment of these relationships, where possible. Flexibility of disability funding including the re-negotiation of packages well before individuals are released from prison Services difficult to access where there has been crimes of a violent nature in the past Post release support is essential for the best possible outcomes to both the individual and the community. In cases where the individual has mental health illness or disability it becomes more crucial. All necessary resources should be engaged to ensure the best possible release plan for each of these individuals. This will obviously vary widely depending on the individual needs. These individuals need support to address their offending behaviour and the associated issues in relation to re-integration into the community. In Queensland there is currently a lack of resources for post-release support and therefore this high need group significantly eat into resources that are already low on the ground and there is always a substantial need that goes unmet through lack of resources. Current Disability Services Queensland funding does not address issues such as decreasing need for support in the future. Current funding models encourage agencies to maintain high-levels of support to maintain funding rather than an educational and developmental model that encourages independence and progression for the individual ebbing off to no or low levels of support reliant on client needs and life stage. Individuals with criminal histories are also outside of the current funding model as they are not characteristically re-assessed for funding until they are back in the community. Meaning that individuals being released from prison have a lag period between release and possible funding, the most crucial and influential time for any person leaving prison. Disability funding is also difficult to access where crime have been of a violent nature, as services are not appropriate skilled or set up for dealing with potentially violent individuals. I will finish off returning to the original point stating that CPM supports and advocates for the removal of people with mental health illness form the prison system and the development of appropriate community resources to deflect these individuals away from the criminal justice system. The prevalance of individuals with mental health and disability in our system is a tribute of the gaps in current funding and service delivery within the community.

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