A decision to reduce the number of offenders allowed to attend funerals in a bid to save $500,000 has come under fire from the prisons watchdog.
Inspector of Custodial Services Neil Morgan said the Department of Corrective Services had provided an "inconsistent, incoherent and unpersuasive" explanation for the cost cutting.
In a report tabled in State Parliament last week, Professor Morgan said the department had also failed to follow its own guidance on assessing the impact of its policy on Aboriginal prisoners and ignored a recommendation of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
In July last year, the department revealed it would save $500,000 a year by restricting significantly the number of prisoners given leave to attend funerals.
The restrictions limited approvals to funerals of a person with a direct blood relationship.
Annual reports show that 29 per cent of the 1218 applications for compassionate leave, which can include visiting a seriously ill person, were approved last year. This compares with 41 per cent in the previous year.
Professor Morgan said there was no separate budget for funeral attendance and no way to identify the costs associated with compassionate leave.
He said the department could not determine how much funeral attendance was costing, how much could be saved or how effective the changes had been in achieving any savings.
A department spokesman said Professor Morgan's 10 recommendations, which include a revised funeral attendance policy and accurately recording the cost of attendance, had been supported either in principle or in part.
"There is a reality that not everyone, whether in custody or not, can attend funerals," the spokesman said.
"If every person who applied to attend was given approval, the costs would be in the tens of millions. It is essential to control costs while maintaining an equitable process."