Prison decisions

McKane v Commissioner [2021] NSWSC 324

A serious sex offender at Junee sought review of an official refusal to downgrade his prison security classification.  Courts traditionally exercise restraint in reviewing managerial decisions in prison contexts.

Walton J (at [49-55]) first noted cases saying that administrative decisions by prison authorities are not reviewable13.  Prison legislation ‘should ordinarily be interpreted to give full scope to the power of correctional authorities to carry out tasks of prison administration and management without undue influence of courts’14.  Disciplinary provisions, it was noted, should also not be construed ‘as if they were intended to confer fixed legal rights on prisoners’15.

This principle is from Episode 72 of interpretation NOW!


13 Clark [2016] NSWCA 186 (at [77]), Kelleher [1999] NSWSC 86 (at [11]).

14 cf Hamzy [2020] NSWSC 414 (at [73-77]), Bernard-Ross [2018] NSWSC 182. 

15 Clark (at [85]), cf Kheir [2019] VSC 76 (at [21]), Episodes 37, 46 & 61.