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Australia: Deaths of Prisoners with Disabilities

End Solitary Confinement; Improve Access to Support, Services

Tuesday 15 September 2020


Embargoed for Release
Not for Publication Until:
05:30 p.m. in Perth, Tuesday, September 15, 2020
09:30 GMT, September 15, 2020

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this report contains images and names of people who have passed away. In many areas of Indigenous Australia, it is common practice that when a member of the community passes away, the person’s name is changed in accordance with cultural beliefs. Names and photographs in this report are used with the permission of the families.
(Perth, September 15, 2020) – Three suspected suicides in the last four months in Western Australia’s prisons have highlighted the urgent need for better mental health services and support for prisoners with mental health conditions, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 42-page report, “‘He’s Never Coming Back’: People with Disabilities Dying in Western Australia’s Prisons” examines the serious risk of self-harm and death for prisoners with mental health conditions, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners, in Western Australia, nearly 30 years after the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. A Human Rights Watch analysis of coroners’ inquest and media reports between 2010 and 2020 found that about 60 percent of adults who died in prisons in Western Australia had a disability, including mental health conditions. Of the 60 percent, 58 percent died as a result of lack of support, suicide, or targets of violence – and half of these deaths were of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners.

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