Bill Potts, Queensland Law Society deputy president, says a lack of drug treatment for remand prisoners is detrimental to rehab work and long-term community safety.
Bill Potts, Queensland Law Society deputy president, says a lack of drug treatment for remand prisoners is detrimental to rehab work and long-term community safety. Jack Tran

'Law and order' pollies have stuffed up rehab, expert says

SENIOR judges have slammed a lack of drug treatment services for remand prisoners trying to get clean.

Queensland Corrective Services says help is available for inmates before sentencing.

But high-level concerns emerged on Tuesday when Emerald woman Krystel Maree Kyle appeared before the chief district court judge.

The court was told Kyle turned to drugs after a break-up, got hooked, dealt meth, then spent 328 days in custody with no access to drug treatment programs.

"It's one of the problems we have,” Chief Judge Kerry O'Brien said.

In September, Justice James Douglas at Brisbane Supreme Court called the situation "ridiculous” for remand inmates.

Potts Lawyers director Bill Potts said a shortage of rehab services was well-known and frustrated "all senior criminal lawyers”.

He said a succession of "law and order” politicians campaigning for tougher sentences obscured the reality that investing in rehab paid off for society in the long run.

QCS said all correctional centres had "substance misuse” interventions from eight to 24 hours for remand prisoners.

QCS said longer interventions were available too.

But those generally required an admission of guilt - and that was unlikely for remand prisoners due to ongoing court matters.

Mr Potts said that was ridiculous, and could be changed.

He said in Victoria, courts could order anyone accused of drug-related offences to get regular drug rehab as a condition of bail.

Mr Potts said QCS were "doing their best” but the current system was not resourced sufficiently.

Shadow corrections minister Trevor Watts said rehab or treatment for remand prisoners was "not really available at all”.

Mr Watts said helping people quit drugs and stay clean was crucial to cutting re-offending.

He believed a combination of better resourcing and legislative change could improve the system.

The National Drug Research Institute's Nicole Lee said treatment was often interrupted when inmates were moved to different prisons or units.

"Counselling programs can reduce the risk of recidivism by 25 per cent,” Professor Lee added.

QCS said after a parole system review, it received more funding last year to boost "general substance misuse interventions across the correctional system”.

Remand prisoners were a specific target in that initiative, QCS said. -NewsRegional



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