Just room for a dirty dozen
CAPRICORNIA Correctional Centre could be close to hanging out the "No Vacancy" sign, with only 12 beds left for prisoners in the secure facility.
But Queensland Corrective Services Minister Neil Roberts said the numbers fluctuated daily, as prisoners were transferred between centres or released.
He said the nearby work camp attached to the facility was 49 beds under capacity.
"Queensland Corrective Services closely monitors prisoner numbers," Mr Roberts said.
"QCS is currently undergoing a reorganisation that will deliver better utilisation of existing and new prison capacity, while retaining a reserve capacity to meet future demand growth."
Attorney-General Paul Lucas quashed recent suggestions that brimming full prisons were influencing judges to hand out softer sentences.
"In my time as a lawyer ... I have never seen the slightest suggestion that a judge has taken into account how many people are in prison whether in relation to increasing or decreasing a sentence," he said.
Rockhampton solicitor Doug Winning echoed Mr Lucas's statements, labelling the suggestions "ill-informed criticism".
"I don't believe that's a fact at all," Mr Winning said. "[Judges] probably would have knowledge, but I think that's an old wives' tale. My experience shows that ... when the Capricornia Correctional Centre is full, they go to Maryborough, or the south-east or Townsville."
Mr Winning said Rockhampton's judges were some of the best and referred to a recent sentence which saw a young mother jailed for two counts of assaulting a police officer.
"I'm not criticising the judge, but I think that was a robust sentence," he said.
LNP Shadow Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the community's concern with softer sentences could be blamed on Queensland Government, not judges.
"The judges are imposing the penalties that politicians are putting in as legislation," Mr Bleijie said.
Mr Roberts slammed LNP claims earlier this month that prisons were over-crowded and it was tying up watchhouses as "nonsense".
He said the prison system currently had a built spare capacity of around 16%.
CAPRICORN CORRECTIONAL CENTRE
- 390 inmates in secure section, capacity of 402
- 37 inmates on the farm section, capacity of 86