The 2014 inspection of Bandyup found that the pessimism of the 2011 inspection report had been well founded. In the three years that passed, the numbers of female prisoners rose steadily and insufficient investment and resources were directed to the women’s custodial estate.
As a result, Bandyup’s infrastructure, services, and staff are increasingly under pressure. The situation for Bandyup’s prisoners is similarly stressed, as they have experience inequitable access to resources and service provision. The issues Bandyup face include:
- Despite having a ‘capacity’ of 259, Bandyup’s population now steadily sits above 300 and has recently been as high as 319. Women who do not have a bed must sleep on mattresses on the floor, often with their heads next to a toilet. The practice of sleeping women on the floors is disrespectful and degrading. Furthermore it does not happen in male prisons.
- Knock on effects of overcrowding include:
- Increased pressure on infrastructure: The original buildings and accommodation are aging and in a poor state of repair. A great deal of maintenance work is required, but state wide budget cuts impact the prison’s ability to keep up with demand.
- Environmental health and hygiene: standards have been compromised in some areas.
- Availability of services, including: access to health services, education, employment, clothing, food, bedding, recreation, programs and visits.
- Bandyup is a maximum-security prison, however only 10 per cent of its population have been assessed as maximum-security. The maximum-security regime of the prison particularly disadvantages minimum-security women, who account for almost one quarter of the population.
- The facility is poorly equipped to perform its remand function. Its resources and facilities are inadequate, and lawyers have consistently noted that contact with their clients is compromised, and compares poorly with metropolitan male prisons.
- Bandyup’s physical layout is complicated. It has seen numerous additions over the years, some of which have been ad hoc and poorly planned. This has resulted in chaotic movement patterns, and a noisy, confrontational and often unsafe environment.
- Bandyup’s varied accommodation options reflect a racial divide, with the ‘best’ parts of the prison dominated by non-Aboriginal women and the more decrepit parts dominated by Aboriginal women.
- The Health Centre at Bandyup is too small to meet current demand, which presents both health and safety concerns. General health services are over-stretched and mental health services are wholly inadequate to meet demand and need.
- In many parts of Bandyup, the levels of mental illness or impairment are palpable and distressing. It is no surprise that it has a high level of assaults and other serious incidents, a large proportion of which are linked to mental health issues.
- Despite paper commitments to recognising women as mothers and primary caregivers, both the external Outcare facility and the internal visits area are the worst of any prison in the state, and are unfit for purpose. This has been accepted for years but never addressed, despite significant investment in the upgrading of visits centres at male prisons.