This letter is to invite you to become a Founder Benefactor of the Community Justice Coalition, the purpose of which is to work for the reform of the custodial sector of the NSW criminal justice system.

The letter is being sent to people like you who have made a significant contribution to our society on a range of issues and who may be concerned that our Criminal Justice System is an expensive failure in serious and urgent need of reassessment and change.

There are existing organisations that work with those most affected – the victims of crime, prisoners and families. However, if they are critical of the system they risk their funding and may be denied access to
resources and facilities, and even to prisoners.

Hence the need for a broad-based independent organisation such as is proposed.

The purpose of the Coalition is:

  • to make the criminal justice system not just punitive but through greatly enhanced prisoner education and rehabilitation programmes, educative and restorative;
  • to ensure better results for the money spent;
  • to create a fairer, safer community;
  • to oppose privatisation of the State’s prisons.
  • In the last decade, after years of ongoing media ‘law and order’ campaigns, political posturing and increased expenditure on prisons and police, the number of adult prisoners in NSW has risen by 50%. There are now 10,000 prisoners in the state’s jails, each costing taxpayers over $70,000 – almost $1 billion each year.
  • The return rate to prison is 44% within two years. This makes a mockery of any claims of rehabilitation.
  • Indigenous people are being jailed at 14 times the rate of the general population, way out of proportion to their numbers in the population.
  • Women prisoners, in most cases mothers of dependent children, are growing at the fastest rate. This is destructive of family ties and may lead to further anti-social behaviour by children who are institutionalised and deprived of family relationships.
  • Prisons have become holding centres for the mentally ill who need professional services rather than isolation, but the present prison health services are grossly inadequate.
  • Many prisoners are young, semi-literate and innumerate. The inadequate provision of remedial education services is a lost opportunity to upgrade their skills. Instead they become institutionalised and dependent rather than developing a capacity to support themselves and their families and to make a contribution to society on their release.
Privatisation of prisons

The protection of society from the threat of crime, from internal or external danger is the duty of government. Privatisation of prisons is an abrogation of government responsibility and against the public interest. It originated in the United States where the prison system is a disgrace.

There is no convincing evidence that management based on the profit motive improves prison systems or makes them more enlightened, humane, reformative or a less expensive option than Government-run prisons.

Leading international expert Stephen Nathan has said: “privatising prisons requires more people in the criminal justice system for longer and is squarely at odds with the public good.” (Independent Monitor March 2008)

The Victorian Government resumed public control of the Metro Women’s Correctional Centre in 2000 after widespread drug use, deaths in custody, poor training and cover-ups were exposed by the Armytage Inquiry. A UK report disclosed in the Independent Monitor in March 2008 placed ten of the UK eleven private prisons in the bottom quarter of the performance register of all UK prisons and showed they are consistently worse than their publicly run equivalents.

If you share our concerns and are interested in becoming a Founder Benefactor, we ask that you commit to the following options:

  • agree to allow your name to be appended to a letter to prospective member organisations and individuals asking for their membership and support.
  • make a donation to help establish the organisation and/or
  • become a member of the proposed Coalition.

We would also appreciate your attending the inaugural meeting to establish the Coalition which will elect an Executive Committee whose function will be to carry out the formalities of registration and begin the process of making the Coalition a force for fostering prison reform in the public interest. You will be informed of the date, time and place well ahead of the event.

Thank you for considering our proposal.

Yours sincerely,

Kep Enderby Q.C. Elizabeth Evatt A.C. John Dowd A.O., Q.C. Kevin Cook
Wendy McCarthy A.O. Anne Deveson A.O. Joan Bielski A.O. Brett Collins. 

Response sheet

It is anticipated that both individuals and organisations will be invited to join the Coalition.
The organisers would appreciate it if you would please indicate how you might like to participate.

I/we wish to become a Founder Benefactor of the Community Justice Coalition q Yes q No

I/we wish to become a Member of the Community Justice Coalition but can’t attend the meeting q Yes q No

I/we will become a Member at the inaugural meeting q Yes q No

Date: Wednesday February 4th 2009
Time: 6pm sharp
Venue: NCOSS, 66 Albion Street, Surry Hills

  • Adopt rules of association with amendments
  • Set membership fees
  • Elect a committee to administer the organisation and further its aims and objectives

I/we will inform the organisations of which I am a member, of the aims and objectives of the Coalition and suggest they consider joining q Yes q No

I/we am/are prepared to have my/our name used in promoting the organisation’s aims and objectives q Yes q No I/we would be prepared to assist the organisation in areas in which I have expertise or skill such as in:

  • Rehabilitation technique and services
  • Knowledge of the custodial justice system in NSW and elsewhere, models of reform, etc.
  • Mental health
  • Adult education
  • Indigenous people, especially young adult males
  • Drug rehabilitation
  • Media
  • I am prepared to offer advice on the preparation of submissions or vet submissions for errors and omissions
  • Secretarial services, computers and administration

    Please return to PO Box 345 Broadway NSW 2007 email: michaelp@communityjusticecoalition.org

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