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Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons

State Records Authority of New South Wales
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On 31 March 1976 the Governor issued a Commission to The Honourable Mr Justice Nagle (Chairman), Alexander George Mitchell, Esq. and Sydney Conrad Derwent, Esq. as a Royal Commission, 'to inquire into and report upon the general working of the Department of Corrective Services of New South Wales, its policies, facilities and practices in the light of contemporary penal practice and knowledge of crime and its causes, and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, to inquire into and report upon:

(a) the custody, care and control of prisoners and the relationship between staff and prisoners;
(b) the selection and training of prison officers and of other staff engaged in training, correctional and rehabilitative programmes for prisoners,

and to recommend any legislative and other changes necessary or desirable in consequence of its findings.' (1)

Letters Patent were issued to The Honourable Mr. Justice Nagle as sole Commissioner on 28 June 1976. The first Commission was revoked but the terms of reference remained exactly the same. The Royal Commission was extended in similar terms on 24 December 1976, 22 June 1977 and 22 December 1977. (2)

The Commissioner presented to Parliament Interim Recommendations of the Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons on 4 March 1977. (3) An Interim Report of the Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons was presented on 20 December 1977. (4)

After extensive enquiries the Royal Commission made 252 recommendations. These had included the removal of from office of the Commissioner of Corrective Services, Mr W.R. McGeechan, but a new Commissioner had been appointed prior to the report being tabled. It was recommended that the Department of Corrective Services should be the responsibility of a statutory Prisons Commission which  itself should be a Department of State. Further recommendations related to: the aims and objectives of the Department; superintendents; prison officers; the Corrective Services Advisory Council; chaplains; classification of prisoners; prison security; prison industry; prisoner education; remissions; prisoners' amenities and conditions; medical services; prisoner discipline; prisoners' rights and grievances; women prisoners; minority groups; Governor's pleasure prisoners; probation and parole; pre-release and after-care; prison records; public relations; research; alternatives and variations of imprisonment; the Deparment and future planning; and, a recommendation for the Public Service Board to take disciplinary proceedings against a public servant. (5)

The Commissioner presented his final report, in three volumes, to Governor Sir Arthur Roden Cutler VC, KCMG, KCVO, CBE., K St.J. on 31 March 1978. (6) 

Endnotes
(1) Supplement to the NSW Government Gazette, No.45, 1 April 1976, p.1457.
(2) Supplement to the NSW Government Gazette, No.87, 28 June 1976, p.2805; Report of the Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons, pp.3, 404-405 in NSW Parliamentary Papers, 1976-77-78, Vol. 3, pp.1365, 1768-1769.
(3) Interim Recommendations of the Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons, pp.1-4 in NSW Parliamentary Papers, 1976-77-78, Vol. 3, pp.1327-1330.
(4) Interim Report of the Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons, pp.1-2 in NSW Parliamentary Papers, 1976-77-78, Vol. 3, pp.1331-1332.
(5) Report of the Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons, pp.380-393 in NSW Parliamentary Papers, 1976-77-78, Vol. 3, pp.1742-1755.
(6) Ibid., pp.1, 3, in NSW Parliamentary Papers, 1976-77-78, Vol. 3, pp.1363,1365.

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