The Greens Corrective Services spokesman says New South Wales Government cost cutting measures are being made at the expense of vulnerable prisoners.
The government is axing its Community Offender Services Program, or halfway homes for newly released inmates, citing a review which found them to be inefficient, costly and located in the wrong areas.
A proposed Riverina halfway house at Gumly Gumly in Wagga Wagga was put on hold two years ago during a review of the program.
Greens MP David Shoebridge says the COSP program was highly effective in helping former inmates re-enter the community and in reducing the rates of re-offending.
He says the decision is disappointing.
“I put the issue directly directly to the Attorney General in budget estimates today and he made it very clear that all COSP facilities around NSW will be shut other than ones in Sydney at Long Bay and out at Campbelltown,” he said.
“But all programs to build new COSP facilities in Wagga and Dubbo are also now being cut,” he said.
“That’s going to throw a lot of vulnerable people into the streets.”
Mr Shoebridge says the program cut is about saving the state government money and he has question the promised replacement.
“I put that questions directly to the Attorney, what will be replacing COSPS?,” he said.
“We were told there are plans afoot to roll it out to the non-government sector and they’ll be working on those plans over the next three months while they shut all the existing facilities.”
“It seems that the government is making it up as it goes and it’s largely a cost saving measure that they’ve announced.”
Mr Shoebridge says it is unclear how many if any jobs will be cut.
But he fears axing the service for newly released prisoners could increase crime.
He says the community should be told why the government is cutting essential facilities.
“People need to have some kind of stability when they get out of jail in order to make those new connections with society and stop them re-offending,” he said.
“You ultimately have a safer community if those inmates you release aren’t just simply thrown to the dogs.”
“With no accommodation, no housing, often their only resort is to return to further crime.”
“We do know those inmates that were released were spending on average 55 days in this accommodation, so they’re substantial support services,” he said.
Mr Shoebridge says he has called for the report which led to the decision to close COSPS to be made public.
“A previous review of COSPS by the former government found that it was very effective and enabled people after release to be reintegrated with the community and greatly reduced reoffending rates.”
“And now sadly we won’t have that service in Wagga Wagga or Dubbo.”