The Office has consistently identified Karnet as both a good performer and a place with greater potential, and this remained the case in 2010. However the inspection identified a number of significant challenges and opportunities facing the prison.
The farm at Karnet plays an important role in the food supply chain of the Western Australian prison system. However, because the farm does not have a distinct budget the exact extent of the savings is not clear, nor exactly how much of its own budget Karnet is contributing to this system-benefiting service. For the sake of accountability and better equity in budget allocations, it is essential that the Department remedy this.
As the prisoner population at Karnet is scheduled to increase significantly by the end of 2010, it is essential that plans are established to ensure the ongoing adequacy of employment at the prison. This requires immediate commitment to the expansion of existing industries, the creation of new industries and the development of a workable constructive day.
There has been a significant ongoing investment in new infrastructure, mainly in the form of transportable buildings. However other sections of the prison, including older prisoner accommodation units, are run down and in urgent need of renovation or replacement. As the prison expands, it will be critical to address existing deficits as well as focusing on the needs generated by the new unit.
Finally, Karnet has consistently housed a disproportionately low number of Aboriginal prisoners. At the time of the 2010 inspection, there were only 22 Aboriginal prisoners at Karnet, representing about 8.5 per cent of the population. Given Karnet’s good performance in the provision of constructive work, education and re-entry assistance and the high needs of Aboriginal prisoners in these areas, it is not acceptable that such a small number of Aboriginal prisoners are being given the opportunity to benefit. As Karnet moves to accommodate more prisoners, the Department must make efforts to increase the proportion of Aboriginal prisoners accommodated there.