Australia's National Prison Newspaper

Australia's National
Prison Newspaper

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About Time is the national newspaper for Australian prisons and detention facilities

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ISSUE NO. 1

JULY 2024

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JULY 2024

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ISSUE NO. 1

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Legal Corner

Welcome to the Legal Corner

About Time

Through these articles, we provide information on relevant areas of law. This first article provides basic information to make it easier for family and friends to support you. There are differences in the ways the systems operate depending on where you’re located (VIC, NSW, ACT or TAS), so we hope this is useful and relevant to where you are. Please note that this is information and not legal advice.

From Paper Chained

Communicating with and receiving help from family and friends.

Sometimes your arrest and remand can be just as difficult for your family and friends as it is for you. Lawyers often receive panicked calls from people who are anxious to hear from you, don’t know how to reach you and can’t work out how to help you. The below information is a basic outline of the information you can give to your family and friends to keep in contact with you and support you while you are in custody. 

Finding out where you are being held

In many circumstances, your family and friends will need to know your location to contact you. In the beginning, before you have your visit list approved, Corrections will not confirm your location to anyone other than your legal representative. We also understand that people are often moved without much notice which can cause other issues with having a new visit list approved. 

VIC:

People can write to you care of the generic address to find where you are: 

Your name (and CRN if they know it)

c/- Corrections Victoria

GPO Box 123

Melbourne VICTORIA 3001

NSW: 

If your location is unknown to family or friends, the easiest way to find you is for them to call Inmate Locations on 02 8346 1000 between 8:30am and 4:30pm Monday to Friday. Alternatively they can email Locations Services and request details of where you are located and how to contact you: CScorporatesupport@dcj.nsw.gov.au 

Your location is needed for most services involved with facilitating contact.

TAS:

Contact the Tasmania Prison Service switchboard on (03) 6165 7400.

ACT: 

The ACT only has one prison, so this is less of an issue.


Mail 

Remember: mail is monitored! Letters to legal representatives should not be opened, however make sure it is clearly labeled as Legal Mail. 

Once people know where you are located, they can send mail directly to the prison address (found online). It’s useful to tell them to put your identification number on the front as well. 


Email

Some prison systems now support email. Emails are also monitored! Anyone who wants to email you needs to register via the website www.emailaprisoner.com.au. It will make their life easier if they have your location and CRN before they attempt to register. 

Email is accessible in Victoria, ACT and Tasmania. In NSW, only Junee prison has email.

Phone Calls

Never forget, your calls are monitored! 

You will need to have your visitor list approved before you can call out. Prison staff will see if anyone is banned, and you cannot add 1800 numbers or businesses.

Prison calls are very expensive, so try to avoid having mobile numbers on the list as it will drain your account. 

Each state/territory has different number of people allowed on your phone list and length of call:

VIC: 

You can have a maximum of 20 numbers on your list and calls are limited to 12 minutes. 

NSW: 

Once approved, you can have up to 10 numbers registered and calls are limited to six minutes when personal or local and 10 minutes when legal or international personal. 

ACT: 

You can have 10 people on your personal phone list. For personal calls, these are maxed at 10 minutes. There is no limit on calls to your legal representative or a public inspector such as the ombudsman. 

TAS: 

You can only nominate eight numbers, with three of those numbers being from legal representatives or other professional services.


Prison Visits

Prison visits include in person visits and video calls. Video visits are recorded!

If coming in person, remind visitors to arrive early and expect a slow process into the prison. For example, if your visit is booked between 10am and 11am, and they don’t arrive at the facility until 10am to start the registration and security process, that will eat into your visit time, subject to the good will of the facility you are at. 

Prisons have strict dress codes and search procedures (metal detectors, emptying pockets, sniffer dogs etc.). 

Searches of visitors are very strict. If staff suspect a visitor may be carrying anything unauthorised, like drugs, they may be asked to do another more extensive search in a private place. Refusing to be searched or they find something unauthorised could result in charges against them.

Visitors will need to bring sufficient identification such as a driver's license or passport. 

Each state/territory has different visitor booking systems: 

VIC: 

Will need to be your approved visitor list, and can be booked by contacting the prison directly. 

NSW: 

JUST Connect is the system used to book video and in person visits. To register for an account, your visitor has to register their full name, e-mail address, Australian mobile number and Visitor Index Number (VIN) for the online application.

Each approved visitor has a VIN that is their unique identification number.  If they need to find out what their VIN is, or if this is their first time visiting you, they need to contact staff at your location to have a VIN number registered. 

ACT:

Visit bookings are made by calling the AMC directly by phone. The number is 1300 286 583 and bookings can be made between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. The number operates by your visitor leaving their details to request the visit and then they will receive a call or text confirming their booking time. 

The AMC can only book visits longer than one hour in exceptional or compassionate circumstances. For example, if a visitor is travelling long distances to see you or if a family member has passed away. A request for a compassionate or exceptional visit needs to be made via email: AMCExecSupport@act.gov.au.

TAS:

The visitor needs to be registered in the system by filling out a form on the Tasmanian Prison Services website. Each prison has its own booking system. Call the prison and follow the prompts to book.


Sending you money 

Only people who are on your approved visit list can send you money, and it’s different in each state/territory: 

VIC:

Wherever possible we recommend the secure online payment service. It avoids things going missing in the mail, or having an unjustifiable delay in the funds reaching you for many mysterious reasons. 

The website is:  https://www.secure-payment-services.com.au/

To register, they will need to be on your visit list and have a full residential address (PO boxes are not accepted). 

Bank cheque or money order through Australia Post is also available. When sending a money order or a bank cheque to the prison, they must:

  • Write your full name (and prison identification number) on the front of the envelope.
  • Write their own full name and address on the back of the envelope.

NSW:

Visitors can pay via BPAY (internet banking).

They will need to be over 18 years of age and have:

  • Their visitor index number (VIN).
  • Your CRN. 
  • A CSNSW Depositor Reference Report, which contains a personalised Customer Reference Number (CRN) for BPAY and Australia Post, as well as the BPAY biller code for CSNSW. The Depositor Reference Report can be obtained in person at the prison you are being held at or sent to your visitor via email or post. 

Once they have that report, they can deposit money into your account by either using BPAY or by making a deposit at a post office. Cash, cheque and money order deposits are not accepted in NSW. 

The maximum amount that can be deposited per transaction is $100 and you can receive up to a total of $800 per month. 

ACT: 

Money can be deposited into your account online or by phone. For online deposits your family and friends can visit online portal on the ACT Corrective Services website www.correctiveservices.act.gov.au or via phone: 1300 546 086. 

To make a deposit, they will need:

  • Your Prisoner Identification. Number (PID), surname and date of birth. You must give them this information as Corrective Services will not provide it.
  • A visa or Mastercard debit card. These are the only cards permitted. 

The limit is $150 per week.

TAS: 

Your family and friends can send a money order/cheque to the prison, deposit at the Visitor Reception Centre in the prison or through any Service Tasmania outlet in the community. They can also access the online secure Payment services. 

Deposits are limited to $100 at a time and your private money account cannot go over $300.

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