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Private prison research in Queensland, Australia: a case study of Borallon Correctional Centre, 1991.

This paper identifies the legislative and policy basis for the Queensland Government's introduction of Borallon Correctional Centre including the contractual and rugulatory arrangements between the Queensland Corrective Services Commission (QCSC) and Corrections Corporation of Australia (CCA). In July 1991, field research was conducted at Borallon Correctional Centre using a semi-structured interview research methodology to collect data from 56 people from three organizations. The findings of this case study suggested that in the area of industrial and work issues, employees of CCA and Wormald were in a weak bargaining position with little input into decision-making. It was also found that the profit motive dominated policy formation in the area of training and programmes. Staff-inmate relations were positive with few reported violent incidents, and communications were open. The issue for private contract management is whether it will provide the impetus and/or mechanism for progressive correctional reform. The paper, unfortunately, leaves the issue open. Poor monitoring by the QCSC means that there is a dearth of detailed information - tender evaluations, tender documents, contractual arrangements, and financial and policy information held by QCSC and CCA. Only when this data is available will it be possible to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the privatization initiative.

Private contract management of prisons within Australia has attracted considerable academic and public interest over the past three years. Borallon Correctional Centre is the first privately contract managed correctional centre in Australia. It opened in January 1990 at a cost of $22 million to build with a contract fee of $9.7 million for the 1991 financial year. The centre is located 60km west of Brisbane and holds 244 male medium security inmates. It is operated by Corrections Corporation of Australia (CCA).

The role of private contract management of corrections in Queensland's penal reform process is being extensively debated. The private sector has been seen by senior members of the Queensland Corrective Services Commission (QCSC) as a conduit to initiate change by reforming and improving efficiency in corrections. A significant strategy of the Commission has been the linking of efficiency, including the restructuring of custodial and community corrections functions of officers into a single correctional officer stream. This has involved a 'revised classification system and emphasis on a collaborative and participative approach between correctional officers and offenders in the day to day management of correctional centres' (QCSC 1992a: 37). Private contract management has been used by the QCSC as a method to introduce more flexible work practices across the corrections system.

Any single motive for the QCSC's rapid adoption of private contract management is difficult to identify. It is possible that the escalating cost of custodial corrections was a significant factor in its decision to privately contract manage Borallon Correctional Centre. The QCSC Quarterly Position Assessment for the period 1 July to 31 March 1992, focuses on an overview of recurrent expenditure and concluded that the total corrections budget for this period was $82,637 million with overtime expenditure being over budget, exceeding the annual budget early in February. The report also revealed revenue generated from industries was under budget by $1.088 million and noted that a lack of change in work practices has led to several centres operating on staffing levels higher than the budget catered for (QCSC, 1992b). The Commission's current over-expenditure has been aggravated by a general increase in the custodial population. This has compelled the Queensland Government to explore ways to reduce an increasing drain on its financial resources.

The purpose of this research was to measure the policy justifications for private contract management of correctional centres against the practices at Borallon Correctional Centre. Because of the originality of this research and the newness of private contract management of prisons in Queensland, an open-ended approach was adopted where possible, exploring themes when they emerged. This research was intended to pilot further field research at Borallon, Lotus Glen, and Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centres, the QCSC and the Queensland State Service Union (QSSU) in January 1994. Unfortunately, at the time of revision of this paper, the QCSC had not, through its Research and Review Committee, granted approval to conduct further research.

Justifications for Private Contract Management of Corrections in Queensland

Policy basis

The implementation of private contract management of corrections was part of a general and substantial reform process of corrective services in Queensland. On 29 February 1988 the Liberal/National Party Cabinet established the Commission of Review into Corrective Services in Queensland (Kennedy Report). The Interim Report outlined a review process that highlighted several points. It was necessary:

- to obtain community involvement; - to tackle the major issues of 'providing an organisation with dynamic leadership, capable of maintaining the momentum for change ... [to meet] ... the need for adequate finances for a modern corrective service' (p. 4); - to set the agenda for that change by undertaking a 'detailed analysis of the submissions examining policy, the actual running of the system and its administrative problems' (p. 4); and, finally, - to prepare the infrastructure for change which required the drafting of legislation - for the reorganization of an outdated Prisons Act, lack of procedure manuals, and new organizational structure and awards (p. 5).

The terms of reference for the Commission relating to privatization stressed that this review was necessary in the public interest and that changes should be contemplated in the organization, administration, and operation of the Queensland prison system. This should include changes in relation to 'the efficiency, management and design of prisons including the cost effectiveness and desirability of introducing private sector involvement in the operation or all, or part of the prison system' (Attachments: 2). Remarkably, the Interim Report rejected the option for private sector involvement in corrections. The definition of privatization, used by Jim Kennedy, Chairperson and Commissioner of Review, was unclear in the Interim Report. At one point Kennedy refers to the private sector operating correctional services (a type of total devolution of the correctional services function) (p. 17) yet, in his conclusion, he considers the option of contract management of certain services, i.e. specialist security services, escorts, supervision of community detention, counselling and health services. Despite this confusion about which form of privatization Kennedy was rejecting, he did reject the concept of private contract management of corrections on three principle grounds. He elaborated;

The market for correctional services is not developed ... [he also had] ... reservations about the ethics of the State relinquishing its supervision over sentenced offenders and committing them to the control of companies ... [and he had] ... seen little hard evidence to suggest that the private sector would be more efficient than the public sector at providing the management and operation of custodial institutions. (Interim Report: 18)

In the Final Report handed down in August 1988, Kennedy had completely changed his position now recommending full private sector involvement in corrections. He recommended Borallon Correctional Centre be privatized. Kennedy claimed the reason for this change in position was that he had the 'benefit of detailed discussions with some major companies with an interest in participating in correctional operations' (p. 88).(1) Private companies such as Wormald Security, eventually engaged at Borallon, made proposals to provide perimeter security, control room coverage, escorts to courts, hospitals, and between prisons. Kennedy indicated that his 'chief concern with these submissions was that they do not go far enough ... They [Wormald] indicate an unwillingness to become involved directly with prisoners on the night shift or within the prison walls'. (Final Report: 93; emphasis supplied)

Kennedy made detailed recommendations with respect to Borallon Correctional Centre. The Centre was intended to be;

a ... Medium/Low Security Centre; without the disruptive influence and presence of dominating power seeking criminals it can be operated to more efficiently provide genuine corrective services and programs with a lower level of security and staffing, without internal escorts and with a more relaxed and pleasant work environment for staff, improved and longer visiting arrangements for families and friends, improved sporting facilities and the development of prison teams, better productive work opportunities and training. It will need no cages and no harsh oppressive discipline provided no high risk prisoners are allowed there. It will also provide more security for local residents living nearby as they can be assured that no high risk violent prisoners are housed there. (Final Report: 96-7)

Kennedy believed that the specific improvements at Borallon Correctional Centre would lead to a generalized improvement across the prison system, leading to the following improvements:

- The problems of finding adequate good staff from within the system would be solved; - There would be added flexibility; - The market for corrective institutions in Australia and Queensland would be created; - There would be an important element of competition for Correctional Officers which could ultimately lift their status, pay, and conditions; - Career prospects for Correctional Officers and Managers would be opened up; - For the first time there would be competition providing a real measure against which to test the performance and costs of the Queensland Corrective Services.

The opportunity to do this may not arise again. If Borallon is opened and staffed by the QCSC considerable resistance may arise in any attempt to subsequently privatise it. It is too good an opportunity to miss. (Final Report: 97; emphasis supplied)

Legislative basis

The significant legislative change necessary to implement the Kennedy recommendations provided a rare occasion for parliamentary debate on private contract management. It should be noted that the private contract management of Borallon Correctional Centre was only a small part of a larger reform process of Queensland corrections in the late 1980s. The Kennedy Review involved the establishment of a Corrective Services Commission, updating prisoner regimes, the establishment of community correction centres, appointment of official visitors and inspectors, the establishment of home detention, Community Correction Boards and a revision of parole and remissions. Despite this extensive reform, the advantages of private contract management dominated the parliamentary debates about the Corrective Services (Administration) Bill.

On 27 October 1988, in the Legislative Assembly, the Minister for Corrective Services and Administrative Services at the time, Mr Cooper, reflected a general optimistic feeling that private contract management could provide more efficient and effective corrective service delivery. He noted that privatization could 'fully open the way for the new Corrective Services Commission to undertake further consultations with unions and other interested parties' (Queensland Legislative Assembly 1988: 2094). In response to arguments by the opposition (the Labor Party) that privatization would mean standards would give way in the face of the profit motive, the Hon. T. R. Cooper replied,

The real experience and the real truth of the matter is that privatisation - properly and selectively applied - will generate a more standard conscious, competitive corrective services system. It will allow us to measure performance and standards in a more professional manner, and above all, it will establish a more accountable system than which is now operating. And how do we measure such standards and level of performance? Through a system of permanent audit control. (p. 2095)

There was not unqualified support within the Liberal-National Party for the privatization of Borallon. Mr Beard, Minister for Mt Isa and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, objected to the government delegating the operation of a custodial function to private companies, noting that,

There are limits to what can be done by private enterprise. The government has certain basic minimal responsibilities ... I do not believe that the people of Queensland are willing to have private enterprise carry out the function of prison wardens.' (pp. 2719-20)

The Labor Opposition which was to be elected to government in December 1989 and which later affirmed the contract for Borallon with CCA, expressed general agreement with the reform approach of the Bill at the time, but wanted the part of the Bill which allowed the privatization of prisons to be deleted. Mr Milliner (then member for Everton and subsequently Minister for Justice and Corrective Services), said,

Privatisation has been advocated in the case of the Borallon institution ... I do not see how a private organisation can run a prison more effectively than the public sector. It is an area in which privatisation will not work and therefore the opposition does not support that concept. (pp. 2699-700)

The Corrective Services (Administration) Bill was passed by a majority of 43 to 29 without amendment and received assent on 1 December 1988. The principle section allowing the operational privatization of Borallon, and potentially any other new or existing correctional centre, was section 19(2) (f). This section enabled the Commission to 'engage a person (other than a commissioner, or an officer or employee of the Commission) or a body of persons to conduct on the Commission's behalf any part of its operations whether under this Act or the Corrective Services Act 1988.' Where the Commission engaged a body or a person pursuant to section 19 (2) (f), it may,

for the purpose of enabling the person or body to conduct those operations, by instrument in writing authorize any person to discharge such of the functions and exercise such of the powers of a general manager, custodial corrections officer or community correctional officer appointed under this Act as are specified in the instrument.

Apart from the legislative mandate to contract out the management of Borallon, the QCSC's own Directorate gave itself a policy mandate to implement private contract management in Queensland. In February 1989, the Deputy-Director General and the Director of Corporate Services visited the USA and UK to examine the contract management of prisons in those countries. They visited eight privately managed correctional facilities ranging from remand and reception facilities to community-based centres run for juvenile offenders. Several senior correctional officials were consulted. The purpose of the trip was to allow the Commission to gain expertise in setting up and administering a privately managed centre. The authors of the resulting report concluded that they saw 'no reason for concern with the Queensland Corrective Services Commission continuing to develop the proposal for the private sector operation of Borallon Correctional Centre' (QCSC 1989b: p. iv).(2)

The Arrangements at Borallon Correctional Centre

Tendering process and company profile

In December 1988, the QCSC called for expressions of interest to contract manage Borallon Correctional Centre. According to its 1989 Annual Report, five organizations submitted comprehensive proposals, two of which were asked to submit formal tenders. The criteria used by the Commission to evaluate the proposals were, 'Respectability and financial viability of the company; Quality of the proposal; and Cost' (QCSC 1989a: 27). CCA was the successful tenderer and the contract was signed on 10 October 1989.

CCA is a company incorporated in Queensland and is a joint arrangement of equal shares between Wormald Security (a subsidiary of Racal Chubb Holding Pty Ltd), Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest operators of private prisons in America, and John Holland Holdings Ltd. The CCA prospectus indicates it provides a 'private sector alternative in the area of corrective services to Governments in Australia and South East Asia ... [with] comprehensive integrated ... [services including] ... the planning, design, construction, financing and management of correctional facilities.' John Holland Holdings Ltd provides construction and design advice. Wormald Security provides recruitment advice and places security and custodial staff at Borallon. Corrections Corporation of America provides the leadership for policy in its Australian operations by its influence on decision-making through representation on the Australian board of directors. Of the seven directors for CCA, the President, Chief Executive Officer, and the Director of Corrections Corporation America are all on the Australian board.

None of the criteria or evaluation processes have been placed on the public record for scrutiny and little is understood about the inter-relationship between CCA and Corrections Corporation of America. This is an area which deserves closer scrutiny and public debate (see Postscript).

Inmate composition

In July 1991, Borallon had design capacity for 244 medium and maximum security male inmates. Borallon had never been used to house maximum/high security inmates.

At the time of the research, Borallon had 237 inmates, 194 in medium security, 35 in low security and 8 in open security. What is remarkable about the contract to manage Borallon Correctional Centre is that it contains the highest number of exclusions for any correctional centre in Queensland. In 1991-2 it was a medium security classified centre for mainstream prisoners with exclusions that included:

(1) Prisoners subject to extradition or deportation. (2) Reception prisoners (sentenced and/or remand) direct from courts/police. (3) Prisoners requiring extended hospital or infirmary care. (4) Prisoners who have escaped or attempted to escape during the preceding 12 months from a high, medium, or low security institution or while on escort. (5) Prisoners who have had serious breaches of regulations, e.g. violent assaultive behaviour on either other prisoners or staff during existing and/or previous periods of imprisonments within the preceding 12 months. (6) Prisoners with a documented recent history of psychiatric or emotional behavioural disturbance. (7) Prisoners who have been involved in the taking of a hostage while in legal custody. (8) Genuine protection/high risk prisoners. (9) Prisoners identified as suffering from communicable diseases Hepatitis B and AIDS). (QCSC 1992b: 2)

With respect to Table 1, it is interesting to note the high percentage of persons convicted of murder and other violent offences. These persons must have been at least at a medium classification and would have shown no violent behaviour within the preceding 12 months. The unusually high number of exclusions given to Borallon allowed it to refuse any inmate who had a substantial behavioural problem. It should be noted that the offence for which an inmate is originally convicted is not necessarily an indicator of whether he will be violent whilst incarcerated. In other words, the high number of convicted murderers in Borallon serving life sentences may improve management of the inmate population by providing stability. This was the case at Borallon (see Findings and Discussions - The quality of the environment).
  Table 1 Inmate Profile at Barallon
  Correctional Centre

Offences                    %

Murder                      13.6
Armed robbery               14.76
Sex offences                11.82
Drug related                11.82
Break, enter, and larceny   11.82
Other violent               17.29
Other non-violent            9.28
Driving offences             8.86
Arson                        0.84

Source of all tables: Assessment Manager, Borallon
Correctional Centre, Manual Count of
Records, July 1991, unpublished.

Regulatory arrangements and operational standards at Borallon

There are three primary sources for the standard and performance criteria at Borallon Correctional Centre which also apply to public sector correctional centres. The first is the Mandatory Standards for Secure Facilities for Audit Purposes. This document contains minimum standards of performance for:

- Centre management and operations, including management and organization, personnel and training, financial management, community interaction and fire, safety, and occupational health; - Centre security and control, including physical security and control and special treatment, separate confinement, and disciplinary procedures; and - Prisoner management process and ancillary services, including leave of absence and home detention, prisoner records, programmes general, farms and industries, health care services, psychological services, recreation, library, religion, food services, prisoner communication, and Aboriginal and Islander prisoners and facilities.

The second source is the legal requirements under the Commission's Rules made pursuant to section 20(1) of the Corrective Services (Administration) Act 1988 (Qld). These are periodical specific directives issued by the QCSC to correctional centres touching upon operational matters. The third source is the general effect of the remaining corrective services legislation. This includes the Corrective Services Act 1988 (Qld), Corrective Services (Consequential Amendments) Act 1988 (Qld), Corrective Services Regulations 1989 (Qld), and the Corrective Services Act Amendment Act 1990 (Qld). This legislation provides for the appointment of official visitors and the power of inspectors (made pursuant to the Corrective Services Act 1988).

In practice, General Manager's Rules made pursuant to section 17(1) and (2) of the Corrective Services Act 1988 provide internal guidance to custodial and programme staff. They outline the procedures for the management of inmates and visitors. If these Rules are inconsistent with the Commission's Rules, then they are ultra vires and the Commission's Rules prevail. Borallon Correctional Centre does not issue General Manager's Rules as such but instead the general manager issues routine instructions which are developed from CCA's Policy and Procedures Manual. The Policy and Procedures Manual contains guidelines for general administration, personnel, training, management information and research, records, physical plant, safety and emergency procedures, safety and control, special management residents, food service, sanitation and hygiene, medical and health care services, resident rights, resident rules and discipline, communication, mail and visiting, reception and orientation, classification, resident work programmes, resident services and programmes, resident release, and citizen involvement and volunteers.

What is unique about the identification of standards at Borallon and the regulatory arrangements is the added factor of a contract for the operation and management of Borallon Correctional Centre executed between CCA and the QCSC. The contract to date has been treated as 'commercial-in-confidence.' The author has managed to gain access to parts of the Deed of Agreement for the operation and management of Borallon with the requirement that it be treated with an appropriate degree of confidentiality. Section 9 of the contract requires that details of the contract 'be kept confidential and shall not be made available to any individual or organization by the Commission or the Contractor without prior written approval of the other party.' Access to the contract has been severely limited to date. In addition, Freedom of Information legislation recently enacted in Queensland is proving to be a slow and cumbersome method to gain information about private contract managed centres in Queensland (see Accountability, Monitoring, and Performance).

To date, access to contractual information, Commission audit documents, CCA policy, and financial information has been dependent on the goodwill and generosity of senior executives within the QCSC and CCA staff. There has been no consistent procedure regarding access with it being dependent upon luck and circumstance rather than the result of a carefully developed policy. From what the author has obtained, the conditions of the original contract provide for various matters. From a regulatory point of view, the most important conditions of the contract are the following sections:

- Section 13 - Compliance with Acts, which requires CCA to comply with all Commonwealth and State Acts and Regulations and rules, by-laws, notices, orders, and proclamations made under such Acts; - Section 15 - Financial Statements and Annual Reports, which requires CCA to provide the Commission within one month of its annual general meeting, a copy of its audited financial accounts and annual reports; - Section 20 - Contract Performance Evaluation, requires that a monitor be appointed to the Centre and paid for by the Commission. CCA 'shall provide the Commission with any information required by the Commission to enable it to monitor and assess the quality of the Contractor's performance';
  Table 2 Inmate Profile at Borallon
  Correctional Centre

Length of sentence   %

Under 1 year         10.6
1 - 5 years          43.03
6 - 10 years         24.47
16 - 20 years         2.53
21 - 25 years         0.84
Life                 13.90

  TABLE 3 Inmate [Profile.sup.a] at Borallon Correction Centre

Ages            %       Education benchmark     No.

18-20 years     15.18   No schooling              3
21-25 years     23.62   Year 10                 210
26-35 years     32.91   Senior certificate        8
Over 35 years   28.28   TAFE qualifications      11

                        Tertiary qualifications   5

[sup.a] 98 inmates were employed and 72 unemployed at time of
offence.- Section 21 - Right to Examine Records, provides a right to the Commission for free access at all times to all records including financial, maintenance, employee, and prisoner records generated by CCA; - Section 22 - Access to the Centre, provides QCSC, including its officers, the minister and persons nominated by the minister, access at all times to all areas of the centre; and - Section 29 - Not a Partnership, provides. that the QCSC is not a partner of CCA, therefore the Commission is not liable for debts or liabilities incurred by CCA.

There is still considerable uncertainty about the effectiveness, of the contract and its adequacy as a comprehensive requirement for CCA to manage Borallon Correctional Centre. The difficulty in evaluating the adequacy of the contract is that Annexure F, which provides for minimum specifications for the operation and management of Borallon Correctional Centre, has not been made available to the author. It is unclear whether these minimum specifications include routine requirements with respect to performance of a quantitative and/or qualitative nature. In other words, is CCA required to provide genuine reform and rehabilitation or just improvements in physical containment? (see Accountability, Monitoring, and Performance). If it is to provide reform, how broad are these requirements and how are they to be measured?

An additional requirement at Borallon is that CCA be subjected to operational audits conducted for the Director of Audit and Prisoner Welfare by audit and investigations officers. These reports are unpublished and not generally available to the public. In 1992, six operational audits were conducted at Borallon. There is no evidence to suggest that an operational audit was conducted at Borallon in 1991. The operational audits involve an examination of the centre by QCSC audit staff and may include interviewing official visitors. The available reports strongly support the findings of this case study (see Accountability, Monitoring, and Performance).


A preliminary research methodology and research guide, including a general interview guide, was developed to provide a justification for a qualitative research approach examining three broad areas. These were the industrial position, the prisoner and custodial officer experience, and the regulatory situation, including the implementation and operation of the contract. Given the unexplored situation with regard to private contract management of correction centres in Australia, a priority of this research was to understand inmates' experiences of the correctional environment, including their impressions of discipline, training opportunities, prison management, and officers' attitudes. The research methodology stressed the need to identify the viewpoints of inmates about their environment. The development of the general interview guide recognized that it is important to check the individual's reported experiences against other people's experiences, which included checking published and unpublished material and analysis of a broad range of unpublished policy information held by CCA.

Selected routine instructions were also checked, as were employee performance appraisals, internal correspondence, and operational audits conducted by the QCSC on Borallon Correctional Centre. It should be noted that all operational audits were undertaken in 1992 and it appears that no operational audits were conducted by the Commission on Borallon in 1989, 1990, or 1991.

A total of 56 people were interviewed within four separate organizations, CCA, Wormald, QCSC, and QSSU. This included incarcerated inmates held at Borallon Correctional Centre.

Within CCA, 15 people were interviewed - the general manager, the manager of operations, the administrative manager, the programmes manager, the education manager, the branch accountant, a nursing officer, three assistant operation managers, three trade instructors, and the sports and activities manager. A life skills teacher was also interviewed who was working on a part-time contract basis to provide a stress management course for inmates. All persons were part of the functional organization of Borallon - four from senior centre management, eight from middle level management including one female nursing officer, and three from lower middle management. Two members of senior management (the general manager and operations manager), had more than ten years experience each in the public corrections system. Three middle level managers had between five and ten years experience in the public corrections system each. The remaining two persons from senior centre management, five persons from middle level management and three persons from lower level management, had no previous experience in the public corrections system. The life skills tutor had five years experience tutoring in public sector correctional centres. It is interesting to note that, in the functional organization of Borallon, there was a high concentration of public sector correctional experience at a senior level. The middle and lower levels had no personnel with any previous public sector experience.

Within Wormald Security, eight persons were interviewed - an administrative officer, a project manager, three male unit security officers, two female unit security officers, and a female senior unit security officer. None of the persons employed by Wormald had previous public corrections security experience. Two male unit security officers had had previous military service of more than ten years each.

It is noteworthy that CCA and Wormald Security operate as two distinct companies within this facility. CCA handles the financial, programme, and security administration of the centre, developing policies and issuing routine instructions, and also providing all levels of management. Wormald Security provides services for staff recruitment and selection and provides staff for all custodial security functions. It would appear in practice that CCA runs the facility.

Five persons from the QCSC, the Director of Audit and Prisoner Welfare, the Director of Corporate Services (now the Deputy-Director General), the manager of prisoner welfare, the principal adviser of policy research and analysis, and the contract monitor were interviewed.

From the QSSU, three persons were interviewed -the general secretary, industrial officer prison officer's industrial section), and publicity officer. The discussion with the publicity officer was not taped. All interviewees were male.

Twenty-five inmates were interviewed at Borallon. Eleven of them were participants in a four-week course on resolving conflict. The remaining 14 were interviewed individually. All inmates interviewed were male within the age range of 21 to 50 years. Seven of the 11 inmates in the group situation had spent between one and five years in the public correctional system. The remaining four had spent no time in the public correctional system. Of the 14 inmates interviewed individually, all had been incarcerated in the public system. One inmate had spent less than two years, six inmates had spent between three and five years, and the remaining seven inmates had spent between five and ten years in public correctional centres. The public sector correctional exposure of inmate interviewees was extensive. Seven of the inmates interviewed individually had been incarcerated in more than two other public sector prisons in Queensland for more than one year at each centre. One inmate had been in nine public correctional centres, averaging one year in each-prison (a milk run). Two inmates had been imprisoned from more than one year in other jurisdictions. Two inmates had been at Borallon for more than three months, but less than 12 months. Ten inmates had been at Borallon for more than 12 months but less than 18 months.

Apart from one impromptu discussion with I I inmates in the education area of Borallon Correctional Centre, all other interviews were of one hour duration. They were conducted in private, out of hearing, or seeing, range of any other person apart from the interviewer. CCA management agreed that the researcher was not obliged to provide a list of persons interviewed, which meant interviewees could be assured of confidentiality and anonymity. It should be noted that no persons in middle and lower level management, inmates, or custodial officers are identifiable from the reporting of these results. This is to preserve the confidentiality and anonymity of interviewees which was a condition of the various interviews (see Postscript).

Interviews were taped at various locations. Personnel interviewed - CCA or Wormald staff - were taped in their office or work area. Six CCA administrative staff were interviewed in their respective offices located in the administrative block. Eight middle and lower level management staff were interviewed in their offices attached to the industry, recreation, and medical sections. Two assistant operation managers were interviewed whilst on night rounds in the accommodation blocks. Eight unit security (Wormald) staff were interviewed in their observation post at the self-contained accommodation module to which they were assigned. Nine inmates were interviewed in the psychologist's room in the accommodation wing. Five inmates were interviewed in the industries area and one in the visits area. Senior executive staff in the QCSC were interviewed in their offices in Brisbane as were executives in the QSSU. The majority of interviews (51) were conducted between 8.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Five interviews were conducted outside these hours, four being in the evening and one on a weekend.

Borallon was chosen for the case study because it was the first operational privately managed correctional centre in Australia, having received its first inmates on 2 January 1990. It had, at the time of the research, established 16 months of operational history. This was sufficient time for CCA to put in place its policy and for the institution to be normalized.

The sampling of interviewees depended on several factors. It was not possible to select a sample in advance from prisoner records held by CCA or the QCSC, because the QCSC would not grant access to inmate files without undertaking a complicated procedure of gaining written permission from the inmate for all required information. It was necessary to rely in the first instance on internal validity checks for the interviews, that is, to ask questions that involved a factual answer and later ask the question in a slightly different way, checking the consistency of the answers. If the responses were consistent, then it is possible to say that the answers were accurate. Limited access was gained to inmate records after one month. All interviews were then checked against antecedent material which was then used as a second validation technique. Interviews that were inconsistent were rejected.

Of the 56 people interviewed, 55 were tape-recorded and transcribed. Validity checks, both internally and against external facts, indicated a high degree of consistency of responses by interviewees. Fifty-one of the 56 were accepted, with the remaining five being rejected. The acceptance rate was 91 per cent. Four of the interviews were rejected because of an inconsistency in responses through external and/or internal validity checks. The other interview was rejected because the interview was conducted within hearing range of a custodial officer who was behind the interviewer but facing the interviewee. The fact thai the researcher was in a position to ensure confidentiality to interviewees would in part explain high validity rating for the interviews.

It was not possible to interview female inmates as this was a male prison. Female and male custodial staff were interviewed with a ratio of roughly one to four in favour of male custodial staff. It was necessary to legitimate the research project in the eyes of senior management at Borallon in order to gain access to the centre. This involved providing regular feedback to the general manager about the research design and what the researcher's personal attitudes were about private contract management. This meant that the first three days of the research were spent entirely in the administrative block.

A research diary was kept to record additional information which included research notes, daily tasks, and additional points or themes raised by interviewees during the course of interviews. CCA placed no requirement upon the researcher to provide details of who was interviewed or the content of the research diary whilst the researcher was in the facility. CCA's position has subsequently changed (see Moyle 1995, esp. ch. 4).

Transcripts, research diary notes, and published and unpublished information were analysed to identify emerging themes in the area of the industrial position, prisoner and custodial officer experience, and the regulatory situation, including the implementation and operation of the contract. The point of reference for these emerging themes was the inmates' description of their own experiences in a variety of settings which included work, recreation, and rest environments. Several preliminary themes emerged as being significant at Borallon. Some of these were industrial and work issues, the quality of the environment, and the regulatory role of the QCSC with respect to the monitoring, accountability, and performance of Borallon Correctional Centre.

Findings and Discussion

Industrial and work issues

Industrial and work issues at Borallon Correctional Centre were far more complex than simply issues of `pay, hours of work and conditions between public and private sector jails' (Moyle 1993a: 241-5) Recent Australian scholarship has focused on the potential for private contract management to bring about structural change across the system. Harding (1992) has analysed private contract management as a technique to reduce the high recurrent costs associated with employing unionized custodial staff. Harding highlights that, within the framework of the highly-unionised stranglehold exercised by uniformed officers, significant cost reduction cannot realistically be sought. Privatisation prerequisite of cost reduction, therefore, and as Queensland experience has shown this may well then spread into the public sector. (p. 25)

Likewise, Moyle (1992a) has stressed that privatization is being used by the QCSC as a strategy to negotiate with the QSSU to implement its reform and efficiency agenda in a broad way. Part of this has involved disciplining individual correctional centres which fail to meet QCSC's budgetary and operational criteria. In some cases the threat of privatization has been applied irrespective of the@ quality of the correctional environment. For example, Lotus Glen Correctional Centre, a public centre which won a Human Rights Award, has been threatened with privatization on several occasions when it failed to comply with budgetary and staffing requirements set by the QCSC. One senior manager at the facility explained,

We were so sick of being threatened with privatisation that we put a package together asking for tenders to be called for private parties interested in managing Lotus Glen. The management team here would have submitted a tender. If the standard of service of Borallon is anything to go by, we believe we could run a correctional centre much more efficiently and provide better programs than CCA. The QCSC can't be too serious about it though because we haven't heard anything about our proposal in the six months since we submitted it. (Moyle 1992a: 115)

Similarly, the Commission has promoted a justification that privatization will lead to changing

restrictive work practices ... [which] ... could be identified and removed and improved management processes put in place. Private sector involvement, with green field sites and totally new staff complements provided an ideal opportunity to test this hypothesis. (Macionis and Millican 1992: 6).

These approaches focus on the motivations of the QCSC for implementing private contract management while ignoring CCA's own industrial strategy for this move. Such approaches also fail to understand the agenda of industrial relations of private companies contract managing correctional centres and whether this agenda actually promotes the transfer of skills to the public sector. In other words, there has been an assumption of the inter-connectedness between the private and public sector, that is, private contract management will lead to an improvement in the public sector. Evidence collected at Borallon suggests the QCSC and CCA have adopted an industrial relations strategy that has been relevant to their own interests often proving antagonistic to genuine negotiations with the QSSU concerning the need to restructure and re-skill the public sector work force. CCA has adopted an industrial relations strategy which is categorized by a deep mistrust of the public sector. The general manager of Borallon indicated that his industrial relations strategy involved recruiting officers who do not have previous experience in public corrections systems:

Such systems may have inculcated workforce practices, interpersonal deficiencies or other negative or endemic cultures which may have proved fatally inimical to the CCA philosophy and commitment to the then emerging Unit Management concept. Our policy then was to recruit Officer staff who were mostly inexperienced in Corrections but whose history, personal attributes, attitude, selection and aptitude testing gave every indication that they would constitute an Officer force of superior calibre and without the trammels of preconceived ideas in Correctional duties. (Dickson 1992: 8)

Research at Borallon suggests that part of the motivation for recruiting custodial staff with little experience in the public sector was to allow the general manager to function both as an employer and industrial negotiator, thus exercising exceptional influence and power over both CCA and Wormald security staff. The Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union (FMWU) has very little input into daily industrial negotiations at Borallon. CCA had adopted a policy of cutting the costs of custodial corrections by reducing the overall number of custodial staff. This did not lead to a restructuring or an improvement in skills of officers, but instead, involved assigning different ratios, that is, lowering the custodial officer ratio therefore reducing operational costs and maximizing profitability. This technique had different effects on different work classifications within Borallon. The general manager reported a feeling of control and satisfaction with this situation.

I was attracted to this job because I can do what I want to do with the staff. I don't have to go to head office and operation committees and those frustrating things. I've had to put up with those things for the past ten years.

Custodial and senior custodial officers at the unit security levels were concerned about understaffing in the accommodation blocks. One officer noted,

You've got 32 inmates, 16 in each spine and I have to run back and forwards to monitor phone calls and keep an eye on things. You're supposed to be in two places at once. I can't monitor what's going on in the unit. I would have to grow eyes in the back of my head. On weekends it's worse. Sometimes I have been the only officer for four units. In the early days, we were just paddling around in the water.

A unit supervisor reported that,

the staffing levels are not adequate here. We have a ration of about 2 staff to about 80 inmates. When I first started here, we were promised that it would be I officer to 16 inmates. In periods where we have had high unemployment amongst inmates, you have a real problem with shortage of staff. Fortunately, most of us have a good relationship with inmates. But on one occasion, an officer was attacked by an inmate who knocked him down and then managed to knock another officer out and both of them were put in hospital. We raised our concerns that staffing levels were too low, but they are still the same.

The general manager did not report that custodial staffing levels were too low, believing instead that staffing levels could be cut further. `We don't have as many custodial staff as comparable state institutions. Saving on labour costs allow us to increase profits. It is unfortunate that the state institutions have such a large recurrent overtime bill.'

The strategy of having minimal custodial staff and using a high ratio of casual labour worked against multi-skilling of officers. Custodial staff reported they were uneasy about the staffing levels, believing the levels were not adequate to do their work effectively, and many workers felt there was no effective method to deal with their concerns. The use of casual labour raised the possibility that custodial staff who threatened industrial action over safety matters could easily not be given work if on the casual list, or if full time, transferred to that list. The general manager reported that the role of unions was limited at the centre and casual labour was a strategy necessary to reduce costs.

When something goes wrong, the only thing unions come up with is the need for more staff. Now this is not the case. We have got to look at how effectively those people are doing their jobs. The immediate reaction that we need more staff is a band aid solution which locks you into a recurrent commitment of valuable resources. There are only so many dollars to go around. If it's all going into wages for correctional staff, then your programs will suffer. I've been able to control that ... The way we make a dollar here is different to the public sector. I can manage Borallon more cheaply because of our use of casual employees. I only allow essential jobs to be filled and if possible, use casual employees to fill them. It's best for staff to work two to three days per week with no overtime or penalty rates. We target semi-retired persons who have other incomes so they can take a few days off and still pay the bills. We have 87 on the casual list.

Perhaps the most vulnerable workers at Borallon were the inmates. Inmates often have family commitments and are acutely aware of the need to save money if they are to have any chance of re-skilling through job training upon release, and funding basic accommodation to live in the community. Moyle (1993c) identified a conflict between the utilization of cheap contract labour which was profitable for CCA, and the provision of genuine skilling and trade training which was expensive to provide. Moyle noted in a comparison between Borallon and Lotus Glen Correctional Centres, `that a business approach had compelled the exploitation of cheap labour' at Borallon (p. 64).

CCA's accountant clarified the source of this conflict between higher cost training and low cost contract work. The accountant reported, We don't want to be purchasing stock that is too costly. We prefer to have value added growth and with contract packing, the owner comes in and provides the equipment. We provide the cheap labour. There will always be inmates looking for the opportunity to earn $53 per week and that will help our industries section grow. We won't offer apprenticeships because that's too costly to establish and you must understand, we are a company that manages incarcerations, and we have to provide the best remuneration to our shareholders. I really can't see any problem with making money from incarceration.

A conflict between a profit motive and the provision of more costly industries based apprenticeships and training programmes was indicated in a conflict between the administration manager and the programmes manager at Borallon. When this case study was conducted, the programmes manager was responsible for the education and industries sections within the centre. The administration manager who was responsible for financial profitability, clearly resented this dual role stating, `You're either a programs manager or an industries manager. You're not both.' The management of industries was about to be taken away from the programmes manager. It was evident that pressure was placed on the programmes manager to promote de-skilled contract work which would give higher financial rewards to CCA. As a consequence, the programmes manager had abandoned the idea of broad based skills training, i.e. apprenticeships, for inmates. He reported,

We are not going to seek to train inmates to be apprentices. Their future lies in labouring work that is mainly unskilled. We haven't really made an attempt to take on apprentices or to develop an apprenticeship training scheme as we just don't have the jobs, equipment, experience or financial resources to do so. We have about 50 inmates that are under-employed here. Once we get the new factory set up, we should be able to absorb them into contract work.

Despite the above difficulties, inmates appreciated having work, even though it was repetitive and involved acquiring few meaningful skills. One inmate noted the positive effect of having work and also suggested a solution to the problem of CCA focusing on contract packing. He noted,

It's good having any work at all. I need a job pretty badly. I know if I'm sacked, there are 100 people waiting to jump into the job. A lot of the other blokes know I get $9 a day, but they don't know I'm only paid that when there is a contract. If you're going to privatise, you should do it properly. I would get rid of the whole thing, CCA running the contract labour centre. Bring in companies and rent them the work shop space and let them employ prisoners on award wages. We would pay board and for apprenticeship training costs. Why should CCA be paid to run the centre and also to get the workshop profits?

It was interesting to note that the lack of job security reported by custodial staff employed by Wormald, was also reported by middle level management and nursing staff within the CCA organizational structure. CCA staff were all award free. Assistant operation managers were more dependent on promotion from a recommendation given by the general manager and therefore more vulnerable if they threatened industrial action. One assistant operations manager reported that he was prepared to accept a flat rate of pay with afternoon and weekend shifts and no union representation because in the medium term, he had good prospects of getting a promotion in another of CCA's facilities. He elaborated,

I have never seen any structured conditions of employment. The GM runs this like a family business and he doesn't take kindly to his authority being challenged. CCA has new operations starting up all the time and while I don't have good job security now, sooner or later a vacancy further up will occur.

CCA's approach to industrial relations drew a negative response from nursing staff who felt they had a right to belong to a union for the purposes of gaining peer advice and consultation. A nursing officer elaborated,

The GM has made it clear that we don't come under any award because we work at Borallon. We work for CCA. We feel this attitude is terrible, after all, we are professional registered nurses. Why are we any different to other members? ... Because we are private, no-one gives a damn. No-one checks on us. I've invited them ... [Nursing Federation and nursing managers of public sector correctional centre] ... to check to see my centre to make sure I'm doing everything I should be. This is especially because I'm new to prisons. I could be doing something that's not quite right for the prison system.

More importantly, there were reports by nursing staff that they felt pressure placed upon them to diagnose because of the minimal time that a doctor was scheduled to provide medical services. A nursing officer explained,

A doctor comes in for two two-hour sessions per week. He's on twenty-four hour call, but because of the high cost to call him in, we feel pressure to diagnose the minor stuff. But what if something goes wrong? We are totally responsible and we have no immediate back up. We are required to make on the spot decisions. You're the only medical person all week apart from four hours. I'm going to join the union. I'm not convinced that CCA will back me if I do make a mistake. I'm not convinced they will supply a lawyer if an inmate sues me, or a family sues me for killing somebody. With the pressure we're under somebody could quite easily misdiagnose something.

Further evidence suggests that many workers were unhappy with the industrial relations situation at Borallon mainly because of an unequal bargaining position between staff and the general manager of the facility. It is apparent that CCA has carefully devised an organizational structure that promotes and sustains this unequal situation. Many staff reported it was difficult to raise, and receive action concerning, critical issues. Some staff had resigned themselves to the fact that any successful work or condition changes would primarily have to be initiated by the general manager.

The quality of the environment

One of the rationales outlined by the QCSC for contract management is to achieve an improvement with the correctional environment, specifically to `bring about cultural and attitudinal change in the management and operation of correctional centres' (Macionis and Millican 1992: 23). They continue,

the Commission has articulated its aim to bring about a more rehabilitative environment in its correctional centres where offenders are given opportunities for self-development while in custody. In order to achieve this, custodial staff would need to adopt a much different approach to their work than that of the traditional stony-faced guard on a fixed post.

In 1991 a Criminal Justice Commission Report on Allegations into Employees of the Queensland Prison Service, and later the QCSC, indicated there was a group of correctional officers opposed to corrections reform. They belonged to what is known as the `old guard'. This group was,

openly critical of the philosophies and goals of the Queensland Corrective Services Commission. They universally thought that strict discipline was appropriate in all cases. They belonged to what was described in evidence as the lock them up and forget them' school. They were seemingly in opposition to the `humanizing' policies that were being introduced by the Queensland Corrective Services Commission. (p. 221)

The quality of life for inmates and staff will undoubtedly be improved if this group can be given further training to assist them to embrace modern case management methods. Putting aside the two issues of whether privatization is a necessary precursor to implementing attitudinal change in the `old guard',(3) and whether improvements in staff-inmate relations can be transferred to other correctional centres, methods to improve correctional environments should be encouraged. Better communication within a facility and more humane treatment of staff and inmates is likely to lower levels of violence, boredom, depression, and perhaps more significantly, self-mutilation and suicide amongst inmates.

Very recently, there has been intense speculation about the significance of contract management of prisons, and moreover, the impact of this upon public sector programmes. Harding (1992) notes,

that genuine cross-fertilisation is occurring so as to improve the whole system ... Of course, comprehensive evaluation is needed of whether such improvements feed through into lower recidivism rates, higher post-release employment rates, less family breakdown, and so on. But prima facie the evidence so far is promising. (p. 3)

Whilst this research does not support the conclusion that cross-fertilization between Borallon and the public sector has occurred, there is evidence to suggest that at an institutional level, Borallon demonstrates several progressive trends which are certainly unique if one compares Borallon with older more containment-oriented public correction centres. The general manager was well liked by a majority of inmates. This was due in part to an open campus-style environment and the establishment of an Inmates Needs Committee' where inmates could raise general programmes or staff interaction matters. The Committee was not designed to raise specific individual matters which were handled through official channels, i.e. recommendations for remissions or disciplinary proceedings. The ``Inmates Needs Committee' gave inmates a direct route to the general manager to discuss general issues. This method of management of inmates yielded impressive results and appeared to empower inmates, allowing them to raise issues on a collective basis concerning the environment at Borallon (cf. this approach with the general manager's approach to industrial relations for staff). The general manager elaborates on the reasoning behind the Inmates Needs Committee,

I believe in humane containment and the provision of skills such as the work ethic. We can provide them with some opportunities here because I understand that imprisonment is a paradox. They come in here to be taught responsibility, yet we tell them what to wear, when to eat, when to get up, when to go to bed. At Borallon, as far as I can, I try, within the constraints of running a secure institution, to put the responsibility back to the inmate. The inmate needs committee is there to talk about deficiencies in programs and the way the inmates are treated. I believe you can run a medium/low security institution as an open campus without locking doors internally. If you have a good perimeter security system with people booking inmates from where they live to where they work, inmates recognise this responsibility and respond to the trust. It's a cost effective way to do things.

Inmates responded positively to this conciliatory approach which filtered down to influence inmates' perceptions of officers and officer's perceptions of inmates. In the areas of approaches to security, visits, and attitudes to punishment, several progressive trends emerged. One unit security officer elaborates a view which the majority of officers shared,

We are less security conscious here. It is more open. We don't try to run the place like a military camp and the atmosphere here is less hostile. I don't want to have a stand off with an inmate and we try a dynamic security system here which means you get to know the inmate and try to deal with their problems on a personal level. It's not about having a dozen guys with batons walking around the place.

The inmates responded positively to this attitude. One inmate commented, Officers mix with inmates and they ... [officers] don't just sit in the fish bowl. The officers don't seem like the screws in Boggo Road. At Boggo, there was a definite line. Cross it and you were bashed. Sometimes the line changed and you'd be bashed anyway. Here I feel I can talk to an officer if you need to and the officer won't mess you around by bringing up stuff you've told him later.

Borallon had all day Saturday, and Sunday inmate visits and custodial officers demonstrated a supportive approach to these. One officer Commented, 'You try and make the visit and the place as pleasant as possible. When visitors first came in, they were aggressive, but after a couple of weeks, they changed. They realized you were just doing your job and you can joke with some of them.' What was particularly interesting about visits is that the Inmates Needs Committee' was able to have some input into providing facilities for inmates' families, e.g. vending machines and a sand pit for children to play in, thus giving adults time together during the visit. On one occasion, the Inmates Needs Committee was asked to pay for overtime costs for visits on Christmas Day. This involved a progressive element by allowing inmates to choose if they wanted extra visits, but also contained a regressive element by making inmates pay for a service which normally is provided by the centre. A member of the 'Inmates Needs Committee' elaborated,

Visits are important to us and I don't feel the officers are too intrusive. On Christmas Day, most of the lads wanted all day visits and the general manager said OK you can do that but CCA won't pay for the penalty rates and overtime. The Committee spoke to other inmates and they all wanted to see their families on that day. It cost us $1,500 for the officers' salaries, but what choice have you got. I'd pay anything I had to see my family on Christmas Day.

A final point concerning the quality of the environment was attitudes to punishment. In this area, it was clear that security staff adopted progressive attitudes. A custodial officer reported,

Taking them away from their families and taking their freedom is their punishment. There is no reason to treat them badly once they are in here. They ... [officers in public sector prisons] ... call us Hotel Borallon because the inmates are supposed to live in great surroundings but Sir David Longland ... [a public sector correctional centre]...just down the road is identical to Borallon. The difference here is that we treat inmates humanely, and what's the problem with that? I don't mind if they call me Mary and I call them Fred and I talk to them and try to sort their problems out. It's better than locking them up and then having to look over your shoulder when they're let out for exercise.

Inmates responded positively to these attitudes. One inmate noted, 'You can do your time here and not be bashed by screws. I don't feel I'll be singled out because I'm an inmate. The officers here don't harass you or single you out and if you're reasonable, they're reasonable back.'

Accountability, Monitoring, and Performance

Accountability, monitoring, and the performance of CCA at Borallon Correctional Centre are all parts of an interrelated process. It is primarily the responsibility of the QCSC to ensure that the policy and contractual information, including audits it performs, are placed on the public record. Evaluations by the QCSC of Borallon's compliance with its contract obligations including operational audits, financial information, and reports of official visitors, need to be carefully scrutinized and related to performance indicators including the standards in the contract. There has been considerable confusion about the criteria used by the QCSC to evaluate the successful tenderer for Borallon. Further, the performance criteria developed by the QCSC, including methods used to, monitor Borallon, art uncertain. This confusion has been caused by the QCSC's refusal to make available to the public, documents relating to the privatization process.(4) This lack of availability of information has led to academic speculation about accountability, monitoring, and performance.

Recently the results of a Public Sector Management Commission (PSMC) Review of the QCSC (1993) indicated a reason for the QCSC's reluctance to publicly disclose performance criteria. The PSMC noted that,

Most of the focus ... [by the QCSC] ... has been on cost comparisons ... Little effort has been made to assess the qualitative issues ... Qualitative comparisons have not been attempted ... the particular indicators to consider in making qualitative assessments have not been subject to close consideration. (p. 118)

The PSMC urgently recommended that,

By 30 September 1994, the Queensland Corrective Services Commission, in consultation with the Office of the Cabinet and Treasury, develop a methodology for evaluating contract management of custodial and community corrections centres which includes: - the basis on which costs should be compared; - the basis on which quality of service can be assessed; and - the overall financial and other impacts on the State and the State correctional system of contract-managed centres. P. 119)

Two approaches to the issues of accountability, monitoring procedures, and performance of Borallon have emerged.(5) Harding (1992) has stressed that Borallon is no less accountable than other Queensland prisons. The first reason for this, is that Borallon is subject to all corrective services legislation and regulations including the Mandatory Standards for Secure Facilities for Audit Purposes. He elaborates, Run-of-the-mill matters within Borallon are no less accountable than in any other Queensland prison; and with the added factor of an official monitor it could even be said that there is greater accountability. Moreover, the endless procession of semi-official visitors which Borallon willingly accepts is in contrast to the secretiveness which some public prison systems still exhibit. p. 18

Harding also infers that the very process of drawing up a contract forces the parties to be specific about what they require (cf. the PSMC's Review findings.)

In the absence of stated objectives, there can hardly be a contract ... All these things are capable of being specified - indeed, must be specified in great detail if performance criteria are to be laid down for tenderers and if the performance of the successful bidder is to be subsequently audited. (Harding 1992: 23)

The second approach has involved a reluctance to draw conclusions about whether private contract management promotes efficiency, without proper access and evaluation of contractual and related information. In essence, Moyle 1992b: 25-7; 1992h: 56-9- 1993b: 223-5) argues that the process of accountability is closely linked to mechanisms of monitoring and performance evaluations. In this sense, the level of accountability can only be identified when all of the information has been placed on the public record and has been thoroughly examined. This approach assumes that the state should take special measures above the minimum legislative requirements to oversee private contractors because of the potential conflict of a company's financial interest with the public interest. Moyle has argued that the inaccessibility of contractual arrangements due to CCA's claims to 'commercial confidentiality', inhibits effective evaluation of Borallon's performance. It is of course better to have the information first, before the analysis, and certainly before conclusions are drawn. In its absence, the researcher must draw inferences about the adequacy of accountability, monitoring, and performance from whatever sources he/she can find. It is easier to document deficiencies in the accountability process after information has been evaluated. This approach places the onus on the QCSC to implement institutional arrangements to provide an adequate information flow to the public.

Evaluation of the initial deed of agreement made between the QCSC and CCA indicates that the contract refers specifically to existing operational documents and standards with respect to performance criteria. In other words, there appear to be no additional performance criteria relating to,

- the quality of the programs provided, - the provisions of industrial and trade training, - impact on recidivism rates, - staff and inmate perceptions of the facility, - escape rates, - successful rehabilitation of inmates, - reducing levels of violence and assault within centres, - employment rates upon release, and - the provision and utilisation of amenities. (Moyle 1992c: 60)

This suggests that the QCSC was content to use cost savings as a primary justification for private contract management of Borallon in 1990. It also appears that no significant operational audits were performed by the QCSC on Borallon in 1990 and 1991. Other evidence reveals that the QCSC had a poorly defined policy basis for the implementation and application of monitoring for Borallon Correctional Centre. In part, this problem has been caused by continued understaffing and lack of specific expertise within the policy, research, and analysis section of the QCSC. The Principal Policy Adviser reported,

We don't have any formalised research program for Borallon. Private prisons is not an area we have researched at all. We really haven't had the resources to do any research on Borallon because our research department consists of four people and our role is to be involved in the day-to-day activities of the Commission. Private prisons is certainly an area of interest to us, I mean we are running the first private correctional institution in Australia.

In addition to a lack of broad-based policy research into Borallon, it was noticeable that the Director of Audit and Prisoner Welfare believed that no special monitoring measures were necessary in either the evaluation or audit areas for Borallon. The Director of Audit revealed that monitoring was already effectively taking place through inmates who would surely complain to a public sector prison if Borallon was not performing adequately. He reported,

We haven't done any real evaluation of Borallon at this stage and nor do I think we need to monitor Borallon very closely, either in terms of case management or industrial training. Inmates don't spend their total sentence at Borallon. That means that if people coming from Borallon were not given effective case management, our own ... [public] ... centres would be jumping up and down.

He also indicated,

We don't have the capacity to monitor the quality of training, either trade or programs, at Borallon. In any case, most of the work at Borallon will be unskilled and your capacity to qualitatively analyse unskilled work is very limited ... Ideally the role of the contract monitor should be as an unobtrusive observer. As time goes by, I would see the need for a regular presence at Borallon diminishing and once practices are in place, then the need for continual monitoring of standards will stop.

CCA found the level and type of monitoring performed by the QCSC to be highly satisfactory. The programmes manager noted that it was not the role of the QCSC to adopt any responsibility for monitoring programme standards. He reported,

It is not the responsibility of the Queensland Corrective Services Commission contract monitor to monitor the quality of our programs. There is not a great deal being done through the contract monitor other than I know she is aware that we have programs here and reports that fact back to the Queensland Corrective Services Commission.

This ambivalent attitude by the Commission towards its monitoring and auditing function assisted in the development of a culture of secrecy within CCA's operations at Borallon Correctional Centre. In response to written and verbal requests for access to basic financial and contractual information, the general manager replied,

It would not be possible for you to get a copy of the contract. We would not consent to it. It is a matter between the company and the Commission and we would not be prepared to release it. We are not about to give you or anyone else in the community a copy of our contract.(6)

This statement was made in July 1991. On 12 November 1992, to the credit of both CCA and the QCSC, the Deputy-Director General gained consent from CCA to provide the researcher with a copy of parts of the initial contract for the management of Borallon and a selected number of Commission audit documents for 1992. The audit documents, whilst they do not cover the period of this research, support the fact that monitoring in 1991 was poor. The -SC reports found the following; that a financial audit had not occurred on prisoner's trust accounts- inadequate care was taken by CCA regarding legal requirements issues to it by the QCSC in relation to offender management; programme evaluation at Borallon was a weakness with poorly defined criteria to measure achievement; that it would be preferable to have available a wider range of employment and vocational opportunities; that there was inadequate treatment of a mentally handicapped. inmate; and that food packaging and the hygiene of catering was inadequate. Interestingly, the audits noted that staff inmate relations were excellent.

One of the important dimensions of the finding of this research on the monitoring role is the inadequate policy basis for identifying and monitoring standards of performance at Borallon. This led to a failure by the QCSC to properly evaluate the performance of CCA. In 1991, the QCSC had given insufficient resources to its audit function and had not adopted a lateral view with respect to the identification and evaluation of qualitative outcomes. Part of the difficulty was the superficial terms and conditions contained in the contract. Nevertheless, specific operational criteria could have been set down by the director of audit, after the contract was signed, by issuing Commission's Rules to CCA. Because of the secrecy adopted by the QCSC in 1990-1 concerning documentation on evaluation and on the contract itself, these deficiencies were not identified until 1993 by the PSMC in its Review of the QCSC. Judicious use of external expertise and community input may have avoided this failure by the QCSC to fulfil its statutory obligations.

Privatization and the Future: Redefining Issues

Australian researchers have been optimistic about the possibilities that private contract management raises for the reform of the Australian penal system. Harding (1992) concludes that is it likely that

the future of private corrections will turn not so much on cost as value ... Aspects of value include: (i) diversity within the total system; (ii) consequently, competitiveness not only as to cost-effectiveness but more significantly as to service delivery across the public and private sectors of the system; (iii) better utilisation of expensively-trained personnel for specialist tasks, so that for example public correctional staff may increasingly be expected to be program specialists whilst private sector ones will be generalists; (iv) enhanced flexibility and capacity to deliver in different situations or for different groups than the public sector possesses; and (v) all increased sense of community involvement in this most difficult of social responsilities.(p.27)

Chan (1992) has been more reluctant to make predictions about the specific effect of private sector involvement on the corrections system. Chan adopts an approach with which the author has some sympathy, being that specific jurisdictional and institutional research is necessary before preliminary conclusions can be drawn. She elaborates,

Privatisation of prisons is still at a very early stage of development and there has been little systematic evaluation of these initiatives ... I have chosen to leave open the possibility that progressive changes may result from the privatisation of punishment, while insisting on a scrupulous examination of each privatisation initiative ... Specific instances of privatisation must be judged on their own merits and, if necessary, contested within their own institutional and legal contexts. (p. 244)

The findings of this preliminary case study indicate that private contract management has not as yet offered better service delivery across the public and private spheres, nor has it led to better utilization of personnel or enhanced flexibility and capacity to deliver services to groups or increased community involvement. Moyle (1994a: 21-2) has indicated how such objectives may be achieved. Modifying McLaren's 1992: 78-80) principles of effective intervention, specific strategies for better utilization of personnel or enhanced flexibility to deliver services could include:

- The requirement that private companies use programmes that stress social learning models treating criminal attitudes and behaviours as learned habits which could be changed by teaching and re-enforcing new non-criminal attitudes and behaviours. - An obligation to identify cross-organizational measures and provide detailed statements that ensure clear rules and sanctions that are applied in a vivid, understandable, and certain way. Discretion where possible should be reduced to avoid that possibility of a conflict of interest between private commercial interest and inmate's rights. In no case should private companies be given the power to hear and determine breaches of discipline, perform a remand and reception function or have determining influence on parole and remissions. - The need for private companies to specify how they will build incentive systems into their dally regimes that reward pro-social alternatives to criminal styles of thinking, feeling and behaving. Companies should detail education programmes in practical, personal, and social problem solving areas and where possible use ex- addicts in the intervention and planning of programmes to serve as credible models. This should allow for neutralizing or mobilizing the offender's peer group so that less opportunity to reinforce anti-social criminal attitudes occurs. - The obligation for private companies to provide promotional opportunities for staff who display a capacity to develop empathetic relationships with offenders based on open communication and trust and offenders being treated in a flexible and enthusiastic way. - Private companies should also provide for a range of interventions some of which should include community resources and input which establish positive links between the institutions and the community. - Costing and payments under the contract should allow for interventions to be run by staff who are given proper training and adequate supervision so that the effectiveness of the intervention and the number of hours of the intervention is not diluted because of financial stringency or other management considerations. - Finally, in the tendering and implementation phase private companies should be encouraged to submit tenders that provide a combination of tools to be used to change criminal behaviour rather than relying on a single method or intervention. This should include where possible, proper post-release training and supervision so that the inmate can be successfully integrated, into the community. Private companies should be encouraged to use a multiple modality approach with combinations of intervention types, such as vocational or academic training and group counselling, being used at the same time, or successively.

These important objectives may still be potentially obtainable but it is evident the QCSC has failed to develop the necessary policy basis to achieve these reforms. Part of the reason for this failure has been a lack of expertise within the QCSC, and also, a failure to utilize community expertise. Issues such as 'commercial confidentiality' and the QCSC's reluctance to provide access to documentation have seriously undermined its objectives of achieving progressive penal reform.

Before a genuine improvement in the quality of corrective services can occur, the QCSC needs to rethink and justify its objectives for private contract management. These should include the identification of qualitative tests to ensure that Borallon achieves specific outcomes that are superior to existing public correction centres. The development of policy by the QCSC should set standards and identify the requirements for CCA, based on the QCSC's own agenda for penal reform, rather than responding to difficulties as they emerge in a reactive way. This would require the Commission to identify specific issues that private contract management raises, such as the effect of the profit motive on administration, industrial training, custodial and programme functions of CCA, and how proper monitoring safeguards can be put in place. It is clear that each area presents ethical, legal, and political issues of its own that must be set against policy development. At Borallon for example, a conflict between the attitudes of the administrative and financial manager towards inmate labour (through the use of a value added approach) needs immediate attention.

One important result of this case study is that it commences the theory-building process by identifying qualitative issues concerning the operation of Borallon Correctional Centre. The research indicates some of the immensely complex issues that such an initiative raises and highlights the need for a more detailed and systematic assessment of the private sector's role in corrections. The task for researchers is to ignore general and vague claims about the advantages and disadvantages of private contract management and to build, instead, a thorough and detailed picture of the rationale, identifying the policy and practices of privatized correctional centres from an institutional level. Ultimately, the successful study of private contract management is dependent upon the goodwill of the responsible agencies which will need to provide access to facilities and documentation so that detailed studies can be completed. The successful evaluation of the private contract initiative is only possible if regulatory agencies are prepared in practice to be open and accountable. As interest in corrections reform is high in Queensland, it is hoped that these standards will apply and the problems identified in this research will be overcome.

This case study indicates much more work is needed in order to develop a clearer of private contract management's relationship to the penal reform. Further study is needed to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the Australian jurisdictions undertaking this policy with greater emphasis on comparisons across jurisdictional boundaries. Once a detailed typology is built up, researchers can look towards more systematic international comparisons. Private contract management clearly presents an opportunity for change but whether this change will be just a replacement of public sector prisons with equivalent private sector ones, or whether it will lead to a fundamental re-evaluation of the purpose and restructure of the operations of corrections, will depend upon the availability and encouragement of' informed debate and detailed academic criticism. Above all, we rely upon the willingness of regulatory agencies to engage in this process. Without the latter, it will be a difficult task to identify the necessary elements for a more effective and efficient corrections system.

The next step is to design studies which integrate and identify what improvements, if any, private contract management can achieve. Several questions require exploration. How can measurements be put into place to enhance the transfer of improvements from the private sector to the public sector within a less confrontationist framework? What objectives should form the basis of a system of corrections and how can they be linked to the reform process of privatization? How will jurisdictional and cultural differences in Australian states effect the implementation of change? What framework should be developed to set the boundaries if any, on the mix of private and public sector involvement in corrections?(7)


Five months after submitting this paper to Corrections Corporation of Australia Pty Ltd for their comments I received a response from both the general manager of Borallon Correctional Centre and CCA's company secretary. Without fully commenting upon and evaluating the validity and relevance of their comments this will be undertaken in detail in a monograph examining the introduction of Australia's first private prison, forthcoming, 1995), I have decided to publish their remarks so that readers may be aware of their views. The general manager believes this case study shows:

An almost complete lack of understanding about both the history and complexities of managing prisoners in the 1990s. It contains a number of mistakes in reference to industrial arrangements .. falsely interprets a number of Corrections Corporation of Australia's policy and procedures .. land] ... you ... [the author] ... have chosen in your paper to mainly present negative comments.

After a request for clarification of these issues since no examples were provided, the company secretary wrote: At no stage did Corrections Corporation of America attempt to dominate proceedings or direct the manner in which the company was to operate in Australia ... You ... [the author] ... make comment as to the considerable uncertainty about the effectiveness of the contract. This is again unfair as you appear to be drawing conclusions from insignificant information ... You refer to the audit of a prison ... For your information the best audit a prison can have is by its prisoners ... Perhaps you could explain to us why you have used leading questions to people interviewed rather than obtain objective information as to the real operation of the centre ... It is simple to draw conclusions from leading questions made to people who are not familiar with the total operation of a centre and who are only entitled to comment upon their particular jobs.(8) (emphasis supplied


Chan, J. (1992), 'The Privatisation of Punishment: A Review of the Key Issues', Australian Journal of Social Issues, 27/4. Commission of Review into Corrective Services inn Queensland (1988), Interim Report, Final Report, and Vol. 11, Attachments (J.J. Kennedy, Commissioner). Brisbane: Queensland Government Printer. Criminal Justice Commission (1991), Report on a Public Inquiry Into Certain Allegations Against Employees of the Queensland Prison Service and its Successor, the Queensland Corrective Services Commission, (Sir Max Bingham, Chairman). Brisbane: Queensland Government Printer. Dickson, B. (1992), 'The Challenge of Change', in D. Biles and J. Vernon, eds., Australian Institute of Criminology Conference Proceedings on Private Sector and Community Involvement in the Criminal, Justice System, No. 23. Canberra: AIC. Harding, R. (1992), 'Prison Privatisation in Australia: A Glimpse of the Future', Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 4/1: 9-27. (1993), 'Privatising Prisons: Principle and Practice', in D. Biles and J; Vernon, eds., Australian Institute of Criminology Conference Proceedings on Private Sector and Community Involvement in the Criminal Justice System, No. 23. Canberra: AIC. Masionis, S., and Millican, R. (1992), History of Contract Management in Queensland Corrections', in D. Biles and J. Vernon, eds., Australian Institute of Criminology Conference Proceedings on Private Sector and Community Involvement in the Criminal Justice System, No. 23. Canberra: AIC. McLaren, K. (1992), Reducing Reoffending: What Works Now. New Zealand: Department of justice Penal Division. Moyle, P. (1991), Borallon Correctional Centre Field Research Notes, unpublished. _____(1992a), Privatising Prisons: The Underlying Issues', Alternative Laze, Journal, 114-19. _____(1992h), Practical and Legislative Restrictions to Access of Information for Private Prison Research in Queensland', Socio-Legal Bulletin, 7: 24-30. _____(1992c), Private Adult Custodial Corrections in Queensland and the First Wave: Critical Reflection on the First Three Years-Reform or Regression?', in D. Biles and Vernon, eds., Australian Institute' of Criminology Conference Proceedings on Private Sector and Community Involvement in the Criminal Justice System, No. 23. Canberra: AIC. _____(1993a), 'Privatisation of Prisons in New South Wales and Queensland: A Rev' Key Developments', The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 32/3: 3231-50. _____(1993b), Privatisation of Prisons in Australia - Lessons from. Queensland', Culture and, Policy, 5: 205-22. _____(1994a), Contracting for Private Prisons in Queensland - Lessons for Penal Policy', Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, Socio-Legal Bulletin, 12: 16-22. _____(1994b) (ed.), Private Prisons and Police. Recent Australian Trends. Sydney: Pluto Press. _____(1995) Private Prisons in Australia: Reforming Corrections into the 21st Century (forthcoming). Public Sector Management Commission (PSMC) (1993), Review of the Queensland Corrective Services Commission. Brisbane: Queensland Government Printer. Queensland Corrective Services Commission (QCSC) (1989a), Annual Report. Brisbane: Government Printer. _____(1989h), Report of Visit to Examine Non-Government Sector Operation of Correctional Facilities. _____(1992a), Annual Report 1991192. Brisbane: Government Printer. _____(1992b), Correctional Centre Prisoner Classification and Categories, unpublished. _____1992c), Public Finance Standards Quarterly Position Assessment, unpublished. Queenland Legislative Assembly (1988), Debates, vol. 310.
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Author:Moyle, Paul
Publication:British Journal of Criminology
Date:Jan 1, 1995
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