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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Prison Shoes: who pays?

Once upon a time prisoners at Casuarina Prison, West Australia made sneakers in the Casuarina's boot shop. In truth they made shoes, safety boots, sneakers and thongs for all adult prisons, work camps and juvenile detention centres in Western Australia. In 2008/09 financial year the boot shop turned out a total of 45,580 pairs of prisoner footwear. At a unit cost of $6.55 per pair the boot shop has consistently saved the department and tax payers more than $1 million in each of the past four financial years. However because forecasts support a significant rise in prisoner numbers the Department of Corrective Services have out sourced to a Melbourne-based company, intandem and Osborne Park clothes supplier Parkinson & Mann who will now supply insoles, soles, uppers, laces and linings. The costs are estimated at $2 million and this will be met by WA taxpayers. Currently 13 inmates spend their working week turning out footwear and their training is accredited through TAFEWA. Since the early convict days shoe making was a skill taught to prisoners in WA. Many continued in the trade after release which accounts for why there rationally are more bespoke shoe makers in Perth than any other city in Australia.

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