Traditionally, Albany prison has been amongst the best in the state. At this inspection Albany remained a best-practice facility. Prison management continued to demonstrate strong leadership. Albany’s healthy staff and prisoner relations had been maintained.
Since the previous inspection Albany has had a large intake of new staff. Despite the onerous workloads caused by overcrowding, they were being well integrated into the good prison practices that constitute the ‘Albany Way’.
The prison remained overcrowded and handicapped by its inadequate infrastructure, including its accommodation, education, health and industrial facilities. These longstanding limitations had become increasingly problematic as the population had grown to 310 prisoners.
With the (then) imminent opening of the new accommodation unit, the prison had a chance to overcome the overcrowding in accommodation units, and to provide specialised accommodation. To achieve this, the prison had to be provided with sufficient recurring resources, particularly staff, to operate the new unit.
Educational, health and industrial services were provided by committed and capable staff. Education delivered better targeted training and education since the last inspection, however, the education facility was too small, poorly designed and insufficiently staffed.
Health staff provided competent care under difficult conditions that included understaffing and inadequate health centre facilities. Industries staff had shown good initiative in generating business, making workshops improvements, and supporting prisoners’ employment and training needs. However, there was insufficient infrastructure and the prison therefore remained incapable of overcoming chronic prisoner underemployment.
Underemployment and disengagement continued to be chronic problems for Aboriginal prisoners. The prison’s cooperation with community stakeholders in the Prisons Aboriginal Service Committee (PASC) and Indigenous Employment Program were promising developments to address these concerns.
Too many displaced Aboriginal prisoners were being accommodated at Albany, where they were too far from social support networks and appropriately designed prison services. This group suffered from greater disengagement from prison processes including employment and training than the south-west Noongar prisoners and was also housed in the worst standard of accommodation.
Albany was found to be doing a good job of supporting foreign nationals, who indicated they felt safe and enjoyed culturally appropriate spiritual care, food, and Skype for social visits. However the Department’s prevention of these prisoners sending earned money home to support their dependents was counter to the Department’s Substantive Equality Policy.