Tough new fines for prisoners, loiterers

People who try to bring banned items into a Western Australian jail could be fined up to $12,000 and face 18 months' imprisonment under new tough proposed changes.

New laws to go before State Parliament this week would also increase fines for refusing to be searched, giving false statements or loitering outside a prison.

Currently a visitor who is caught with drugs or other contraband faces a $2000 fine or 18 months' imprisonment, but under the proposed changes to WA's Prisons Act 1981 that penalty would increase to a whopping $12,000 and 18 months' jail time.

Other proposed increases include:

  • Refusal to be searched from $1000 to $6000
  • Unlawfully entering or attempting to enter a prison from $1500 to $9000 (and 18 months' jail)
  • Loitering around a prison from $1000 to $6000 (and 12 months' jail)
  • Giving false information to enter a prison from $1000 to $6000 (and 12 months' jail)

The new changes are part of the Prisons Amendment Bill 2019.

The fines have not been changed for almost 40 years since it was first introduced.

Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan said the tough penalties were designed to improve the security and good working order of jails.

He said they follow the State Government's $300 million investment into 1,228 new beds to address the inherited overcrowding crisis, an Australian-first alcohol and other drug treatment prison, more drug dogs, more prison officers, more resources for intelligence and investigation functions, and many other innovative initiatives.

"I hope the message is getting through to those that seek to do the wrong thing in our jails or when visiting them, that this government has zero tolerance and is doing everything that it can to stop them," Mr Logan said.