Sporting chance for inmates

Dennis Lillee, Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis and Michael Braun. Picture: Martin Kennealey d409299
Dennis Lillee, Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis and Michael Braun. Picture: Martin Kennealey d409299

The two sports stars handed over $20,000 worth of donated work gear, including boots, hard hats and fluoro shirts, to young men due for release.

Wandoo Reintegration Facility is a minimum security prison for men aged 18 to 24 that focuses on preparing offenders for release.

It opened in November last year and is the first prison in WA to cater specifically for the needs of 18 to 24-year-olds.

An inmate, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was awarded an employee of the month certificate during the presentation. He is due for release today after spending a year at Wandoo.

During that time he managed to turn his life around, he said.

‘I was feeling quite down on myself when I first arrived here, but I took advantage of the opportunities and now I have a job at a laundry factory set up and structure in place for when I’m released,’ he said.

The inmate was sentenced to a 17-month jail term, at the age of 19, after he was involved in stealing a car which led to a police pursuit.

The first five months of his sentence were served at an adult prison, which he described as ‘not a nice place’ and where he found the older men intimidating.

He was transferred to Wandoo five months later based on his good behaviour and being a low-risk offender.

At Wandoo he completed a Certificate of General Education (CGE) something he never thought he’d achieve and was highly involved in the prison’s horticultural program.

Education and training manager at the prison, Alan Fealy, said the age group was the most vulnerable, with 80 per cent of offenders likely to re-offend but early intervention could put them on the right path.

‘The idea of Wandoo is that offenders look out the fence to the future,’ Mr Fealy said.

‘The programs here allow them to develop their own sense of self and get that sense of achievement.’

Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis, who attended the presentation, said that when young offenders came to Wandoo, he wanted to ensure they never came back.

‘When they leave here we want them to succeed with everything in their life,’ Mr Francis said.

‘I don’t want them hanging around hardened criminals (in adult prisons) where they’re going to be corrupted and contaminated.’

‘They may not be able to change their past or situation, but in Wandoo they have an opportunity to change their future.’