Maryborough Correctional Centre.
Maryborough Correctional Centre.

Tension, drug drones, assaults: Questions regarding prison

Fears that overcrowding at Maryborough Correctional Centre could lead to an increase in assaults between prisoners and against staff have been raised by Shadow Minister Police and Corrective Services Dale Last.

The prison, designed to accommodate 500 prisoners, is currently housing 704 prisoners.

Mr Last said he held fears for the safety and wellbeing of both the staff and those imprisoned at the centre as overcrowding could lead to an escalation in tensions.

"Queensland's prison system is completely broken under this Labor Government," he said.

"Throughout the state we have seen [allegations of] appalling management practices and overcrowding, and these allegations show that the Labor government has simply failed to keep up with demand.

"When the Corrective Services Commissioner publicly says overcrowding is his number one operational priority, you know there is a problem.

"Here we have even more evidence that overcrowding is out of control and the government needs to come clean on when this issue will finally be addressed and the staff in Queensland's prisons will be treated with the respect they deserve."

The Minister also raised concerns regarding those in custody being placed with the general prison population, with reports that those who are yet to be convicted or sentenced are falling victim to stand-over tactics by other prisoners.

"People on remand are being put in danger and the hardworking staff have been let down by Labor instead of being supported," Mr Last said.

"The corrections system is broken, and staff are being victimised for speaking up in defence of their colleagues."

Mr Last said there were also fears large amounts of contraband was finding its way into the prison, with the help of tennis balls and drones, even with the cancellation of visitation during the COVID-19 epidemic.

The Minister said Maryborough was one of the prisons in the state which currently had no general manager.

"I was given an assurance at the recent Estimates Hearings that appointments to vacant general manager positions would be made in coming weeks," he said.

Minister Ryan needs to explain why these positions remain vacant leaving a leadership vacuum at a number of our Correctional facilities across the State."

A spokeswoman from Queensland Corrective Services said prisoner numbers in every facility fluctuate daily due to prisoners being admitted, discharged and moved between facilities.

"Queensland Corrective Services manages capacity across the state by transferring prisoners between centres as necessary," she said.

"There is a significant expansion underway at Capricornia Correctional Centre, effectively doubling the capacity in 2021, and the government have committed to building a new 1004-bed men's prison to be constructed at Southern Queensland Correctional Centre stage 2.

"Both of these projects will increase capacity across the State.

"We are keenly aware that the increase in prisoner population makes our officers job even more challenging, and QCS is working closely with the officers to ensure the safety and security of the prison."

The spokeswoman said QCS had a zero-tolerance approach to contraband in the state's prisons.

"QCS has a zero tolerance approach to contraband, and use a range of techniques to prevent contraband entering the prison and to locate contraband which has been introduced.

"Attempting to smuggle contraband into correctional centres is a serious issue and puts the lives of staff and prisoners at risk.

"No matter the reason, if people attempt to introduce contraband into QCS properties or facilities, there will be consequences."

The spokeswoman also addressed concerns that those on remand were being placed in the general prison population.

"Prisoners are placed in centres after full security assessment.

"Queensland has a dedicated remand prison in Brisbane, but in other centres, remand prisoners are housed with sentenced prisoners after a security assessment including associations checks and other assessments."

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