Karnet Prison Farm has consistently proven to be a very good performer. Previous inspections of the prison have found high numbers of prisoners involved in meaningful work and training, strong community engagement, a generally content prisoner population, and a variety of successful re-entry programs. Karnet has furthermore effectively managed to integrate prisoners generally held in protection units into its mainstream population.
Karnet was last inspected in 2010. The Inspector found that Karnet continued to be a very good prison, but also noted Departmental under-investment and a lack of commitment to its future. Furthermore a succession of caretaker Superintendent’s had created a degree of uncertainty among staff.
Karnet’s population has been steadily increasing in line with the state-wide prisoner population. Its capacity rose from 174 prisoners in 2007, to 238 by 2010. However historically, Karnet has had among the lowest proportion of Aboriginal prisoners across the WA estate. In 2007, only nine per cent of its population was Aboriginal, despite the fact that Aboriginal prisoners made up 42 per cent of the state’s prison population. This under-representation was described at that time as being ‘unacceptably low.’
At the time of the 2010 inspection, Karnet was preparing for a further increase in capacity. Given that the prison had the strong reputation of providing meaningful employment to all of its prisoners, the inspection identified that it would be critical to avoid a lack of jobs on site.
In the years since the fourth round inspection of Karnet, the prison has received an additional unit, bringing its operational capacity from 238 to 326. Despite the increase in prisoner numbers, the proportion of Aboriginal prisoners held at Karnet has remained low. One month out from the inspection 37 Aboriginal prisoners were housed at Karnet, totalling only 11 per cent of its population.
In announcing the 2013 inspection of Karnet this Office indicated that particular attention would be given to the following areas:
- The prison’s journey in the three years following the 2010 inspection.
- Managing the prisoner population in light of the recent increase in numbers.
- Programs available / role of Karnet in programs delivery.
- The structured day model and measures taken to avoid clashes between work, education and programs.
- Preparation of prisoners for release and how prison services contribute to this outcome.
- Consistently low numbers of Aboriginal prisoners accessing Karnet.