The power of voice: new voicemail system brings prisoners and family closer

Hearing the voice of a loved one is crucial in helping prisoners cope with custody and thanks to a new voicemail system, regular family contact for prisoners at Wolston Correctional Centre (WCC) can be made with the touch of a button.

Wolston’s Violence Prevention Coordinator Lynne initiated the prison voicemail system, which is currently being trialed by the centre, to help reduce the strain and stress of incarceration on both prisoners and family. If successful, it will be rolled out to all centres throughout Queensland.

“Stress and feelings of loss and hopelessness for prisoners can lead to incidents of self-harm, suicide, poor institutional behaviour and violence,” said Lynne.

“By implementing a system where prisoners can keep in better contact with family and loved ones, the pressures of prison life can be eased by providing a sense of belonging and security, with a reduction in feelings of isolation.”

The prison voicemail system has been adopted from the UK and has received outstanding praise overseas for its innovation in keeping families connected while in custody. There is no cost to the centre and the set up for families is easy, with price plans to suit all budgets. Prisoners can check messages as often as they like, with the option to reply and/or speak to the account holder if they opt to pick up the phone.

The centre also benefits by reducing administrative tasks associated with sending post and lowers demand for phones at peak times. Calls can be monitored as per normal procedure and all messages are stored in the prison voicemail system, which can be accessed by the centre if needed.

Wolston Correctional Centre General Manager Scott Collins said Lynne had been instrumental in the implementation of the prison voicemail trial at Wolston which earned her a well-deserved
Commissioner’s Award for Excellence recently.

“Lynne’s commitment to prisoner rehabilitation and her proactive and passionate nature has led the way in developing many innovative practices to support the daily functions of the centre,” Chief Superintendent Collins said.

“The new voicemail system has the potential to reduce anxiety for prisoners and their families by enhancing family contact, improving rehabilitation and impacting positively on their ability to
reintegrate successfully into society on their release from custody.”

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