Alex's story – stuck in prison because he had nowhere else to go

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Alex's story – stuck in prison because he had nowhere else to go

Alex is a young person with a number of complex cognitive and developmental disorders. He was living with his parents and on a NDIS plan which provided staff to support his disability needs on a daily basis.  

Read Alex's story.

Alex was charged with non-violent offending and found unfit to plead. He was placed on a non-custodial supervision order and continued to live at home with his family. 

Over the next few months, there were some incidents in which Alex put himself in danger and the police were called. Alex was brought before a judge who reluctantly decided there was an unacceptable risk that Alex might reoffend, or hurt a family member or himself. Consequently, he was placed on a custodial supervision order. At the time, the Court acknowledged that it was a difficult decision to have to send such a young person with Alex’s disabilities to prison. However, there were no other options available for Alex. 

There were no available placements in treatment facilities which could support Alex and his disability. Because there was nowhere for Alex to go, he was sent to prison. For almost a month he was held in 23-hour isolation, locked in a tiny cell in conditions which had a significant detrimental impact on his health and wellbeing. 

Alex has now been in prison for months. He is acutely distressed and barely eating. His ability to communicate has been affected and he routinely engages in self-harming behaviour. The situation is very distressing for his parents, who are his strongest personal support but have been unable to visit him and have only been able to speak with him on the phone once. 

Alex’s doctors say his time in prison will harm him further and hinder any progress he has made from treatment. 

Since he has been in prison, disability advocates and his NDIS support coordinator have tried to find suitable accommodation for Alex in the community. There have been delays caused because of the lack of available specialist disability accommodation for young adults like Alex as well as misunderstandings about Alex’s eligibility for this accommodation under the NDIS. Although Alex is still young, he no longer qualifies for specialist accommodation services which supported him when he was a child. Alex’s NDIS plan now includes funding for specialist disability accommodation, but there is no suitable specialist disability accommodation for him to live in. 

Alex will continue to stay in harmful conditions in prison until a placement in a suitable specialist disability accommodation becomes available for him. 

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