Is Woodford's bikie prison just a mirage of media spin?

WHEN is a place of imprisonment a high security jail and when is it just another place where criminals are locked up?

The difference may be a matter of interpretation that depends more on the need for media spin than a clear definition.

Or perhaps the one place can be two things at the same time.

On March 7 at 9.19am the Daily sent the following question to the office of Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie:

"Can the Minister/department explain why the VLAD prisoner unit at Woodford Prison has folded? My understanding is that VLAD prisoners were being held in a 52-bed unit set aside for that purpose?"

At 3.22pm on the same day Ron McDonald the acting principal media officer for the Communications Services Branch of the Department of Justice and the Attorney General sent the following reply 

"Please find below a statement regarding Woodford Correctional Centre, as requested. Please attribute to a spokesperson for Queensland Corrective Services:

"The Restricted Management Unit at the Woodford Correctional Centre has not been closed. As planned, prisoners who are participants in a criminal organisation will continue to be incarcerated there.

"The numbers of incarcerated prisoners will fluctuate over time. As prisoners cut their ties to criminal organisations they will be moved back into the general prison population. Members of the general prison population are also sometimes held in the unit when it is not near its capacity."

The question about the closure had been put on the basis of a news tip the foundation of which though not known at the time can now be revealed.

Its basis was the following email, altered to include in brackets interpretations of prison speak) sent to all Woodford Prison staff on March 5 by its general manager Scott Collins.

"There remains one prisoner in the unit (Restricted Movement Unit) who is identified by Queensland Police Service as being considered an identified participant in a criminal organisation and subject to a COSO (Criminal Organisation Segregation Order).

"He is currently being allowed his natural justice period before a final determination is made. Regardless there are only a handful at this time across the state who are subject to this process and potentially require a COSO.

"Hence effective from tomorrow (March 6) the RMU (Restricted Movement Unit) will be referred to as P3 again (its old name) and revert to the following prisoners.

"Prisoners on COSO, prisoners pending a COSO, mainstream prisoners. All other staff are to be redeployed until training for the MSU (maximum security unit) commences.

"P3 will begin taking prisoners tomorrow at a rate that allows some short-term relief from double ups (overcrowding in other sections of the prison)."

Mr Scott's email appears to confirm earlier questions put by the Daily about overcrowding within the gaol with some prisoners required to sleep on the floor on mattresses and to store belongings in boxes.

Independent Member for Nicklin has sought and been refused on security grounds permission to inspect the facility outside Caboolture.

Sources say Woodford is bursting at the seams.



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