Overcrowded prisons ‘unsafe’
PRISONS are increasingly using blow-up mattresses as beds as prisoner numbers surge, according to Together Union regional organizer Ashleigh Saunders.
She said while many people weren't particularly concerned about uncomfortable and agitated prisoners, it was definitely a concern for under-resourced prison officers.
Ms Saunders said officers were at a higher risk of attack while prisons across Queensland, including the Capricornia Correctional Centre, continued to suffer overcrowding.
"Woodford used to be their overflow prison; now it's just for bikies," she said. "The prisons are so crowded they've got people sleeping on blow-up mattress on the floor. But they have the same amount of prison officers.
"They're not safe conditions."
Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne, the shadow corrective services minister, blamed the surge on "the LNP's hard-line mandatory sentencing and bikie laws".
But acting Attorney-General David Crisafulli argued the Newman government was simply keeping its promise to Queenslanders "to get tough on crime after years of slaps on the wrist by the former government".
Mr Byrne agreed with Ms Saunders that the prison system could not handle the surge in numbers.
"Now the state secretary of the Together Union, Norm Jacobsen, has confirmed that there has been a spike in assaults at Lotus Glen in far north Queensland where, he says, the suicide-watch safety centre and detention centre can't cope with demand," Mr Byrne said.
"The Newman government has failed completely to plan for the rising numbers in our jails where inmates are being compelled to spend longer in their cells and where doubling up - two prisoners in cells designed for single occupants - is common."
Mr Crisafulli said there was enough room in the prison system for inmates, as well as access to health and counselling services.