National Network calls for a prison moratorium – no new prison beds

The announcement that a new women’s prison will be built in Darwin on the site of the current Stringybark Centre has been met with great disappointment and condemnation by members of the National Network.

‘We oppose all new prison builds. However, this one is especially insidious,’ said Debbie Kilroy. ‘To replace a facility that is supporting people to address alcohol addiction to build a prison to punish and exile people is just gross,’ said Debbie Kilory. ‘We should be working on ways to keep people in our communities, not developing and building ways to warehouse them in cages away from their families and communities,’ said Debbie Kilroy.

The racial animus is always present in these kinds of political matters, and Aboriginal people are imprisoned at a significantly higher rate than non Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. ‘This decision to build a whole new prison for women (as well as one for men) will overwhelmingly affect Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory,’ said Tabitha Lean. ‘With an increased capacity to cage, the system always finds new bodies to fill those prison beds, and they love to fill them with our mob,’ said Tabitha Lean. ‘We must oppose this prison expansion. We have to for the safety and wellbeing of our community,’ said Tabitha Lean.

The National Network is also concerned with the announcement that the site of Don Dale Youth Detention Centre will be turned into a men’s prison. ‘Where will this leave the children currently caged in Don Dale?’ asked Debbie Kilroy. ‘We oppose a new children’s prison, and we must be vigilant in ensuring that the NT government do not build any new prisons for children,’ said Debbie Kilroy.

‘As a society we have to decide what sort of communities we want to have. One where people are disappeared from their families and our communities, where they receive little to no support to stay well and safe. Or do we want to be the sort of society that supports people to be the best versions of themselves?’ asked Tabitha Lean. ‘We get to choose. We can demand that governments invest in community not cages. We must. We must demand no more prison beds. We must demand an investment in transformative justice and instead lets put the money into keeping people from ending up in prison in the first place,’ said Tabitha Lean.

The National Network welcome the opportunity to work with the Northern Territory government on alternative solutions to incarceration.

For further comment, please contact Debbie Kilroy on 0419 762 474or Tabitha Lean 0499 780 226