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Myths and Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when a person first arrives at prison?

There is a range of reception processes that prisoners go through when they arrive at a prison. These include having their property logged and going through a formal identification process. A number of assessments are also conducted to identify their personal needs. These include program, educational and medical assessments as well as an assessment to determine whether they are at risk of harming themselves or others, or of being harmed by others. The assessments are used when developing a case management plan for the prisoner.

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What do prisoners do all day?

Prisoners are encouraged to participate in rehabilitation programs and activities. These programs and activities are designed to enhance personal development and build self-esteem.

Prisoners may also access nationally-accredited vocational and education training programs. Prisoners who are released on parole part way through completing a program can continue the program through their Probation and Parole Office.

Some prisoners are also able to participate in the prison industries' programs that help them gain job-relevant technical skills and develop positive work habits. Prison industries are diverse and vary from centre to centre.

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What personal items are prisoners allowed to bring into prison?

Prisoners are allowed to bring in some personal items such as underwear and some clothing for outside appointments, such as court appearances. They are also able to purchase items such as books, magazines and CDs. They cannot bring toiletries into the prison and are issued with them on arrival.

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What items are prisoners not allowed to bring into prison?

Certain items are prohibited. These include mobile phones, keys, electronic opening devices, electronic scanning or transmitting devices, money, credit cards, passports and anything that could be described as a weapon.

Substances such as alcohol and drugs are also prohibited.

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What is in a cell? Do they share?

Each cell generally accommodates one person. Most cells contain a bed, desk, toilet, shower and hand basin. Prisoners are able to purchase personal items such as soft drinks and reading materials.

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Are prisoners with special diets catered for?

Meals in correctional centres are designed in consultation with dieticians to meet the needs of all people, including vegetarians and those with specific religious or medical diets.

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Are prisoners allowed to make telephone calls?

Prisoners are permitted to make telephone calls. All telephone calls are recorded and monitored with the exception of calls to legal counsel.

A telephone card system allows prisoners to register up to 10 telephone numbers. These numbers are checked to ensure the people nominated are prepared to accept the calls. There is no legislative limit on the length of the calls although, as a number of prisoners may require access to one telephone, time guidelines may be in place and will vary from centre to centre.

Prisoners are not allowed to receive incoming calls under any circumstances. In an emergency situation, a message will be passed to a prisoner.

Prisoners pay for their own telephone calls, except for calls allowed upon reception and transfer, or in emergency situations.

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What rules must visitors follow?

Visitors must book each visit and have a security clearance before they can enter a correctional centre. They are not permitted to pass anything to prisoners and must follow the centre's rules. Visitors must wear respectable clothing and footwear. Visitors entering secure facilities undergo a variety of security checks which may include electronic drug detection scanning devices, metal detecting and the use of Passive Alert Drug Detection Dogs.

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Why are some offenders placed on court orders rather than being sent to prison?

Typically, offenders on court orders are not hardened criminals. They tend to be younger than offenders who have been sentenced to prison terms, and usually have committed less serious offences. They will usually have been placed under supervision because the courts consider them at risk of becoming more serious offenders if nothing is done to stop their behaviour.

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What are the different types of community-based supervision orders?

Courts may use a variety of sentencing options. These include:

  • probation order - May be used instead of or combined with a prison sentence. The offender must report to an authorised officer, must not commit another offence, and must take part in counselling and programs as directed. Offenders are not allowed to leave the State without permission and must notify an authorised officer of any change of address or employment.

  • intensive correction order - Prison sentences served in the community. Offenders are subject to intensive supervision and must report twice a week to their supervisor. Offenders must also attend rehabilitation programs or counselling, and perform community service. Offenders who fail to comply are returned to court for breach action.
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Is probation and parole a "soft option"?

Offenders under community supervision must report regularly to a supervising officer, may not leave the State without permission, and may be required to attend courses or treatment to change their behaviour.

Offenders who can remain employed or who are able to secure employment place less burden on the community and are less likely to re-offend. Prisoners who return gradually to the community through supervision are also less likely to re-offend.

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What happens if someone is placed on a community-based supervision order?

If a person is sentenced to probation, community service or an intensive correction order, they are given an order by the court that contains a number of conditions they must fulfil. First, they must report to the Probation and Parole Office named on the order. They are then allocated a probation and parole officer who ensures they comply with the order conditions, assists them in their rehabilitation, and can initiate disciplinary measures if they fail to comply.

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What is community service?

Community service projects are operated by not-for-profit community organisations. They include environmental groups, schools, ambulance services, charities, meals-on-wheels, sporting clubs, local councils and many other organisations. Voluntary supervisors oversee the offenders working on the projects. Offenders, working one or two days a week, provide nearly one million hours of labour each year as reparation to Queensland communities. For many, it is their first experience of voluntary work, and some offenders continue this volunteer work following the completion of their orders.

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Are offenders on community-based supervision orders kept under surveillance?

Probation and parole officers are trained to identify factors that indicate an offender's risk level may be increasing, such as a change in physical appearance, communication style with QCS staff, and instability at home and in a relationship.

Offenders are required to maintain regular contact with Probation and Parole staff, either by personally reporting to an office or through visits conducted to their home or workplace.

QCS employs surveillance officers who conduct home visits and collateral checks to ensure offenders are complying with the conditions of their orders. Collateral checks are made to ensure interventions, such as counselling, are being undertaken and to verify an offender's residential arrangement and employment circumstances.

Contact may be made with an offender's family or other relevant people who can verify how the offender is behaving.

If required, breath and urine testing may be conducted to check current substance use.

QCS actively encourages community members to provide information about the activities of offenders in the community to improve the quality of supervision.

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Did you know?

  • During the 2003-04 financial year, the average daily number of offenders serving community based supervision orders was 11,468, comprising approximately 9056 men and 2412 women.
  • The successful completion of community based supervision orders has increased from less than 60 per cent in 2001-02 to 74 per cent in 2003-04.
  • 72 per cent of prisoner admissions during 2003-04 were for total sentences of less than 12 months.
  • Offenders subject to community based supervision cannot leave the State without permission from a community correctional officer, unless there are special circumstances.
  • Offenders subject to community based supervision must notify their community correctional officer immediately if they change their address or place of employment.
  • In 2003-04, the Department operated more than 1200 community service project sites across Queensland. Work ranged from cleaning and gardening to engaging in support activities with the aged and infirm.
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Last Updated: 03 October 2006