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IQ2 Debate: Prisons Work

1 August 2017
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
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Sydney Town Hall
483 George St
Sydney NSW 2000

Tickets From $39
In the last five years, the number of people in custody has risen by a third. Australia's 39,000 prisoners cost over $3.5 billion last financial year.
Is the investment paying off? Do prisons work?
Prisons serve a range of purposes. They should deter people from committing crimes, rehabilitate offenders, protect the community and punish offenders in proportion to what they’ve done.
But a quick scan of the media shows plenty of times when prisons seem to miss the mark.
One punch laws in NSW introduced lengthy sentences for alcohol fuelled violence, but is anyone really thinking about consequences when they drunkenly attack someone?
Around half of prisoners are repeat offenders, suggesting rehabilitation isn’t working. Plus, images of abuse in correctional facilities and stories of deaths in police custody make it hard to see prisons working in an inmate’s best interests.
Every time a criminal out on parole harms the community, people ask whether the system is actually keeping us safe.
But seeing criminals being punished gives victims, their loved ones and the wider community a sense of justice. It makes a clear statement about our common values and the kinds of behaviour we refuse to tolerate.
Are prisons the best way to deal with crime? Are they in need of reform? Or should we lock our prison doors and throw away the key?
Join us for a fresh debate about criminal justice in Australia. In the meantime, check out our infographic on the latest Australian prisons statistics. Some of it may surprise you.



Kerry-Tucker.jpgKerry Tucker served five years in prison for theft and fraud. While incarcerated, she earned a Masters of Arts and became the first Australian inmate to have a graduation ceremony inside. Once released, Kerry became a lecturer in media studies and advocate for women prisoners. She says prisons are working as social support services for women inmates.

Kerrie-Thompson.jpgKerrie Thompson is acting CEO of the Victim Support Unit, VOCAL Inc NSW. The emotional and practical support she provides may be for trauma, grief, anxiety and crisis or safety planning and legal or court support. Before joining VOCAL she was an Australian Army corporal and served in Papua New Guinea and East Timor. Kerrie says prisons serve community expectations and offer justice.

JulianBurnside.jpgJulian Burnside AO QC is an Australian barrister, author and human rights advocate. He is passionate about the arts and well known for his positions on refugees. Julian’s legal work is mostly in commercial litigation, trade practices and administrative law. He says the true principle of prison should be rehabilitation, but people come out worse than they go in.

Mundine.jpgNyunggai Warren Mundine AO is one of Australia’s most high profile Aboriginal political leaders and managing director of advisory firm Nyungga Black. The former national president of the Labor Party chaired a South Australian corrections panel that explored a new initiative to reducing reoffending. Warren says 73% of inmates are repeat offenders and prisons don’t work at all in the juvenile sector.

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