In today’s edition of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, ACSO CEO Vaughan Winther states that the current shortage of supportive housing is not the only crisis facing people exiting prison. Australian and international research consistently show that people who have spent time in prison are at higher risk of death in the community, with an increased risk of fatal drug overdose in the weeks and months following release. A couple of weeks ‘rent assistance’ to stay in unsafe, crisis accommodation like the Coburg Motor Inn is not an appropriate housing solution for anyone, without support for substance abuse and mental health, this just continues the cycle of unnecessary re-incarceration. The problem is not a new one. The tragic death of Jethro Lazenby is added to the many other past tragic deaths of people who exit prison who need integrated substance and mental health treatment, yet the only ‘support’ provided is unsafe crisis accommodation at a rundown motel, rooming house or caravan park.
If we want to prevent deaths of people exiting prison, we must be prepared to prioritise reform of the criminal justice system and investment in supportive housing, substance abuse and mental health treatment models.
For more information read ACSO’s (2021) submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Criminal Justice System: https://lnkd.in/dAM65wPM