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Australian Response to Prisoner Complaints

NCJ Number
American Jails Volume: 10 Issue: 5 Dated: (November/December 1996) Pages: 88-89,91-92
M W Manske
Date Published
4 pages
Although Australian common law allows for direct causes of action by prisoners against their custodians for personal injuries, virtually all claims that might be categorized as custodial grievances may be resolved through various administrative procedures.
These procedures provide for the receipt, investigation, and resolution of complaints at the facility level, and they provide effective mechanisms for efficiently dealing with issues that arise as a result of custody. The cumulative result of these numerous mechanisms is a comprehensive "net" of governmental agencies and programs that provide appropriate responses to any number of grievances. The Australian government has established Criminal Justice Commissions within the several States to conduct hearings and take evidence of ethical violations and official misconduct alleged against corrections personnel and agencies. By its passage of the Judicial Review Act of 1995, the State of Queensland has launched an innovative process of complaint resolution not found elsewhere in Australia. This act provides that inmates aggrieved by administrative decisions of the Commission, such as transfers, disciplinary action, or prison leave, may demand a Statement of Reasons to justify the decision. The act has also created a streamlined process for obtaining judicial review of the challenged decisions by the Australian Supreme Court. The method most often used for resolving complaints in Australia, however, is in the Official Visitors Program. The Corrective Services Act of 1988 provides statutory authority for the official visitors. Official visitors are charged with visiting their respective prisons or community corrections centers at least twice a month. They may hear complaints by inmates and may interview persons under parole, probation, community service, or a fine option order. A visitor may investigate allegations and report any findings to the Commission. 22 notes