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Family Forum – PTSD son in high-security Yatala jail

A reader asks a question about help with the criminal justice system and mental health.

Question:

How can I have my son, who suffers from PTSD, transferred from a high security prison, Yatala, to low security or home detention when his crime was not of a violent nature and occurred two months after his return from combat in Afghanistan, which was four years ago? He was sentenced only last week and in five days has regressed at least two years. He should never have been put into prison when an alternative exists and definitely not in high security, supported with psych reports. Please help.

Answer:

The panel feels it is important that you seek more information because there may be reasons why a high security prison has been chosen for your son at this point in time and it may actually be in your son’s best interest. High security can mean a higher level of care and safety for your son, due to a higher ratio of staff to prisoners. It may also allow for a fuller assessment prior to your son being considered for lower security and home detention options down the track. When a magistrate considers the sentence and nature of the penalty he or she takes into account many considerations, including the safety of others and safety of the offender. In the first instance, it is suggested that you make contact with your son’s lawyer to ask for an explanation of the court’s decision in relation to your son’s case. His lawyer may be able to explain the reasons behind the decisions. It would be a good idea to explain your concerns regarding your observations of your son’s decline to both his lawyer and the Prison Health Service (phone 8342 8669), or the Department of Correctional Services (or all three of these options). To get support for yourself consider contacting Offenders Aid and Rehabilitation Services (www.oars.org.au or phone 8218 0700). You can also visit the OARS Family Centre “Boomgate” at the Yatala Labour Prison. The Family Centre is open on Saturday mornings from 9am to 12pm. Alternatively email oars@communitytransitions.com.au and they we will get back to you as soon as possible. Given your son is a veteran, the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (www.vvcs.gov.au) may also be of assistance, phone 1800 011 046.

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Family Forum is a panel of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it. The panel is appointed by Relationships Australia SA.

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