The State Opposition says a ‘selfie’ photo posted online by a Townsville jail inmate highlights the risks to community safety posed by the Newman Government’s frontline service cuts and overcrowding.
Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the Newman Government talked a lot about throwing more people in jail, but was in reality overseeing a jail system lurching towards crisis.
“Here in Far North Queensland we have already seen overcrowding and ‘doubling up’ in cells at Lotus Glen Prison which leads to heightened tensions among inmates and that leads directly to higher risks for frontline prison officers and the surrounding community,” Mr Pitt said.
“Prison officers have previously confirmed a spike in assaults at Lotus Glen and have said the suicide-watch safety centre and detention centre can’t cope with demand.
“Now we see the LNP’s policies have allowed a major breach of security at Stuart Prison in Townsville with a prisoner accessing a smuggled mobile phone to post ‘selfies’.
“Mobile phones in jails are a major security risk because they can be used to arrange more smuggling of contraband including drugs as well as organise riots or escapes,” Mr Pitt said.
Shadow Corrective Services Minister, Bill Byrne, said the Newman Government had failed to plan for the growing prison population its own policies were creating.
“The Newman Government trumpets the fact it wants to throw more people in jail, but then does nothing to protect frontline prison officers or nearby communities from the impacts of overcrowding,” Mr Byrne said.
“The Newman Government abolished successful diversionary programs as well as the Murri Court, the Drug Court, the Special Circumstances Court that dealt with offenders while stressing the need to reduce reoffending.
“As prison populations rise inmates are spending longer in their cells and doubling up – two prisoners in cells designed for single occupants – is now becoming more and more common.”
Mr Byrne said the state’s prison population had risen from about 6100 to close to 6700 in the past six months.