Too many people with disability are going to jail despite not being found guilty of an offence. Prison is not an alternative accommodation option for people with disabilities, according to Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes.

His comments follow a report on ABC TVs Lateline, about a woman with an intellectual disability being held in Kalgoorlie prison for 18 months, who was accused but not convicted, of crimes relating to use of a motor vehicle. The Aboriginal woman was found unfit to plead as a result of her disability. An attempt to have her returned to a care facility in Alice Springs was refused by the Northern Territory government.

“It is unacceptable that a nation of Australia’s standing, and commitment to the rule of law, should lock people up for undetermined periods when they have not been found guilty of an offence,” Innes said.  He has urged the WA and NT governments to immediately address the problem.

In February, the Australian Human Rights Commission released a report that demonstrated the lack of equal access to justice for Australians with disabilities. (Go to News, Page 5).