Women family violence offenders leading to prison expansion

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A spike in family violence offences committed by women is one of the factors triggering the expansion of Tasmania’s woman’s prison.

“We talk quite a bit in the family violence context about male perpetrators of family violence, but there are also some female perpetrators of family violence,” said Tasmanian attorney-general Vanessa Goodwin.

“Some of those are ending up in the prison system.

“Drug usage, potentially the involvement of ice, changes their offending profile so they are more likely to be involved in offences of violence.”

She said the prison system was sitting at 87% capacity.

But according to a report by the ABC, the union estimated that the average inmate number at the Mary Hutchinson women’s prison, which has capacity for 46 female inmates, was 52, higher than the average indicated by a Department of Justice spokesperson at 43.

The state government said on Thursday that it would spend $4.7m for 20 extra beds for the prison, and $700,000 in funding for Ron Barwick Minimum Security Prison.

“The Mary Hutchinson Women's prison has been operating at either full capacity or over capacity for at least the last six to eight months,” said Sarah Lovell from United Voice, who welcomed the funding.

Lovell said prison workers need assistance to cope with the changes.

“We would hope that the Government is matching any increase in funding that will increase capacity, with an increase in staffing to match that,” she said.