Fear prison overcrowding leads to 'low-risk' inmate assessments
A COUNCILLOR fears overcrowding at the Capricornia Correctional Centre is causing pressure to assess inmate's as "low risk" to make room for new offenders.
Livingstone Shire Councillor Glenda Mather (pictured below) has spoken out about her concerns following the escape of a prisoner from the correctional centre's farm facility on Monday.
Overcrowding at the prison has been the focus of much political and media attention. Since 1999, there has been at least 12 prison breaks at the Etna Creek jail, north of Rockhampton.
Cr Mather said security at the farm needed to be at a maximum.
"I am also aware that the overcrowding at the main facility is causing pressure to assess as many as possible as 'low risk' to make room for new offenders into the system," Cr Mather said.
"The assessment process isn't foolproof, that's why the supervision on the farm needs to be at its maximum.
"There are no farming activities on the farm - the dairy and piggery have been closed down over the years, so prisoners do have too much time on their hands, in a domestic environment."
She claimed it was "common knowledge" that the system was considering the prospects of receiving convicted prisoners from the courts, and placing them on the farm, even before they received their sentencing.
"If this becomes a reality, I'm sure the public would respond very loudly, as these prisoners would pose a major risk to the community, and the justice system," Cr Mather said.
"They would be untested as a prisoner, and we could expect regular disappearances.
"Prisoners on the loose cause a major cost to the state, and the justice system, and the public expects systems to be in place which are not based on cost-cutting."
A response has been sought from the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.