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WA Labor propose dedicated rehab prisons

AAP logoAAP 8/01/2017 Rebecca Gredley

Dedicated drug and alcohol rehabilitation prisons have been proposed in a "radical" drug plan by West Australian Labor ahead of the March state election.

The plan also includes two new treatment centres in regional WA, an additional $2 million per year into existing treatment facilities, fast-tracked guardianship and administration applications, and increased roadside alcohol and drug testing.

WA Labor leader Mark McGowan said the state had the highest methamphetamine use in the country, with one in 25 people using the drug.

"Rehabilitation prisons is a radical measure, it has never been done in Western Australia," he told reporters on Sunday.

"We expect the prison system will become a way for people to kick the habit."

People with short-term sentences for non-violent drug related offences would be selected for the rehabilitation prisons by a 10-person triage unit, to prevent low-level offenders encountering more serious criminals.

Wandoo prison in Murdoch, currently a young men's prison, would become the women's drug rehabilitation prison and accommodate 80 people.

The women's remand centre inside Hakea men's prison in Canning Vale would be reassigned to become the men's drug rehabilitation prison, with a capacity of 256 people.

Half the current total annual expenditure on prison drug and alcohol rehabilitation would be used on post-release support.

This was welcomed by Tabitha Corser, program director of The White Haven Clinic, which provides a pro-bono addiction recovery and counselling program in WA prisons.

She said current post release wait times for residential rehabilitation facilities was three to four months.

"That clearly doesn't work because when is the greatest chance of relapse? In those three to four months," she said.

Acting premier Liza Harvey said the plans did not address blocking drug supply or enforcement, and the prisons earmarked to become rehabilitation prisons currently provided beneficial programs.

"What's going to happen to these other prisoners if these facilities are repurposed?" she said.

Ms Harvey said most people in jail for methamphetamine use were serious, violent offenders that Labor's proposals did not cover.

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