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Queensland jails bursting at the seams

CROWDED: The state’s prisons are struggling to cope with the high number of inmates.
CROWDED: The state’s prisons are struggling to cope with the high number of inmates. File

THE state's prisons are struggling to cope with the number of inmates and the four correctional centres located in the region are no exception.

There are 988 prisoners housed at Arthur Gorrie, 596 at Brisbane Correctional Centre, 386 at Brisbane Women's and 721 at Wolston Correctional Centre.

Figures have revealed the correctional facilities can only house 890, 560, 267 and 600 inmates respectively.

MORE ON THIS STORY: Housing one inmate costs $66,000 a year

All four facilities have seen significant prisoner increases over the past two years, especially Wolston that has seen 68 more inmates than two years ago.

Wolston is the state's high protection facility that houses pedophiles, sex offenders and high profile prisoners such as wife-killer Gerard Baden-Clay, child murderer Brett Peter Cowan and former Labor MP Gordon Nuttall.

There are 301 Ipswich residents receiving free board and three meals a day courtesy of taxpayers in one of the state's jails or work camps. About 7238 people are behind bars state-wide, the majority are white, aged between 25 to 29 and are serving an average sentence of 1-3 years.

The top five crimes for people behind bars are assault, murder, break and enter, rape and armed robbery-related offences.

There are 407 people serving murder sentences, 119 people serving attempted murder sentences and 97 people serving manslaughter sentences across the state.

The over-crowding issue across the state's 11 high-security prisons has authorities concerned. There are about 1400 more inmates in the state's jails than there are cells to accommodate them.

A Queensland Corrective Services spokesperson said the organisation had the ability to cater for as many prisoners as required.

"The number of single cells in no way reflects a correctional centre's capacity," they said.

"Queensland Corrective Centres are fully scalable to ensure prisoner numbers, which fluctuate for a range of reasons, can be accommodated at any given point in time.

"QCS has implemented a variety of approaches to safely incarcerate inmates including dual occupancy within cells designed for such use, and the use of temporary bunk beds, trundle beds and mattresses in secure cell or residential areas."

Corrective Services Minister Jo-Ann Miller said she was looking at ways to deal with capacity issues in the state's prisons.

She has previously said she was interested in considering sentencing options that would see an increased use of community service orders and other sentencing options such as intensive correction orders.

"I will continue to work closely with them (the department) over the coming weeks to find a proper, considered long-term solution and not just a political band aid fix," she said. We are a government that will consult the experts and listen to their advice. Until that body of work is complete, I am not ruling anything in or out."

Topics:  correctional services, overcrowding, police minister jo-ann miller, prisons



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