A bizarre and highly dangerous car chase that involved a stolen Jeep being used to ram a prison transport car, resulting in a prisoner briefly on the run through Canberra last Friday, has been met with characteristic silence.
The dramatic escapade, which saw Kane Quinn, 28, allegedly busted out from custody by Lila Walto, 28, was an extremely unusual incident, which deserves a prompt and fulsome explanation from authorities. Especially so for the people who were caught up unexpectedly in this traumatic set of circumstances.
Why a white Camry sedan was being used to transport an at-risk prisoner from the Alexander Maconochie Centre to the Canberra Hospital at Woden remains a crucial question. An independent review had only last year found this was not an appropriate means for conveying prisoners. Canberrans have now had the opportunity to see how inappropriate the vehicle was.
How, too, did the car end up in inner-south Canberra, a good distance from its apparent direct route between the hospital and the prison? And how did the driver of the Jeep know where to find the car transporting Quinn at precisely the right time?
But answers to those mounting questions have not been forthcoming. Another crisis for ACT Corrections and another period of silence. This response blueprint is becoming all too familiar as the agency's preferred - but deeply flawed - approach to responding when things do go wrong.
Of course, Neil McAllister, the ACT's Inspector of Correctional Services, immediately began an investigation into the "critical incident" last Friday. Mr McAllister rightly did not waste a moment in doing so. But this process will take at least eight weeks, sifting through the available evidence and taking time to make recommendations.
No one is suggesting Mr McAllister speed up this process; as always it must be given the time it requires so the task is executed properly and without political pressure.
But such a report is not the only means to be answerable to the public on this issue. In the meantime, the ACT's acting head of corrections, former chief police officer Ray Johnson, and the Corrections Minister Mick Gentleman ought to front up to provide the public with the best account they can of what happened.
The ACT government goes to great lengths to tout its prison's credentials as a human rights-compliant facility. It is a commendable goal, of course, but it means little if the system is not transparent and accountable.
No prison system is perfect. But when mistakes are made, ACT Corrections owes it to the public to explain what went wrong and what it intends to do to make sure it will not happen again.
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