Row after loss of Borallon jail
THE Department of Corrective Services has denied claims Queensland prisons are being filled to bursting point following the closure of the Borallon jail.
Reports emerged yesterday claiming prisoners were being forced to "double up" in cells and police watchhouses were being used to house prisoners.
However, acting commissioner for Queensland Corrective Services Marlene Morison said there was no shortage of beds and there was only an increase of only 80 prisoners since last year.
"In total, Queensland has just over 5600 prisoners - and we have approximately 1100 non- operational beds across high and low security," she said.
She said there were also 400 beds at the Woodford Correctional Centre available to handle any surge in prisoner numbers.
However, Corrections Union secretary Alex Scott said overcrowding in south-east Queensland prisons is leading to prisoners being forced to sleep two to a room.
"This overcrowding is a result of poor management and failure to plan. It's costing taxpayers, putting pressure on Corrections staff, and increasing tension in prisons. Standards of safety are being put at risk, endangering our community," he said.
"Six months ago they announced the closure of Borallon Correctional Centre because it wasn't needed, and now they can't find enough cells to empty police watchhouses."
LNP Member for Lockyer Ian Rickuss said despite the free cells the government had spent more than $400 million on a new prison.
"Even after they close Borallon they'll have 600 or 700 free cells," he said. "And they'll still have Borallon sitting there like a big festering sore.
"They say they're closing it because it's old, but it's only been there for 20 years."
However, in parliament yesterday Minister for Corrective Services Neil Roberts said the movement of resources from Borallon to Gatton had caused a current shortage of facilities.
"One of the key elements of the reorganisation that I announced was the temporary closure of Borallon prison and the opening of the new Corrective Services facility at Gatton," he said.
"That has required a temporary opening of double-up facilities, across the south-east corner in particular, to cater for the transition from the temporary closure of Borallon into Gatton. In addition to that, there has been a seasonal spike in the number of prisoners coming into the system."