A new report by Human Rights Watch has highlighted a lack of mental health support services in Western Australian prisons.
The He’s Never Coming Back report looked at coroners reports from between 2010 and 2020 and found that about 60 per cent of adults who died in prisons in Western Australia had a disability, including mental health conditions.
Of that 60 per cent, 58 per cent died due to a lack of support, suicide or targets of violence – and half of those deaths were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners
Human Rights Watch alleges in the cases it looked at, corrective services failed to address or recognise at risk prisoners and provide support.
It found that even for prisoners who were known to have a disability, prison staff failed to provide adequate support that could have prevented them taking their own life or from being attacked by fellow prisoners.
Australian director at Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, says in many cases mental health support in prisons is little more than “putting medication through a slot in the door.”
The Western Australian government says it has established a task force which will examine the management of at-risk prisoners. It comes after three suicide deaths by prisoners in just over two months.