Overcrowding increases risk of escapes, says union official

WHEN Michael Thomas heard there had been a breakout at the Capricornia Correctional Centre, he was not surprised.

The director of industrial services for the Together Union said they had been approaching a "crisis in corrections" for months.

As of April 14 there were 471 prisoners at the Centre, which has a cell capacity of 410 in the high-security facility. The farm had 94 prisoners with a capacity for 96 as of April 14, a day after two prisoners escaped.

"We were saying as late as December that overcrowding was causing pressure to have people released on (to) the farms," Mr Thomas said.

"There's a clear link where you have overcrowding and the increase risk of escapes."

A spokesman for the Queensland Corrective Services said the centre continued to operate in a safe manner using a variety of approaches.

"Prisoner numbers are managed on a state-wide basis and fluctuate over time, driven by a variety of factors including crime rates, sentencing practices, parole board decision-making, and parole breaches.

"Queensland Corrective Services uses a variety of approaches to safely incarcerate prisoners when numbers exceed the built-cell capacity of a prison, including using cells built for dual occupancy and temporary bunk beds, trundle beds and mattresses in secure cell or residential areas."

The union first raised concerns when budget cuts were announced to the department, including nightly dog squad patrols, which left one less deterrent for those thinking of escaping.

Kuhl has served two years of a six year sentence and had been eligible for parole on May 10, 2013. Morgan has served 16 years and two months of a life sentence, and had been due for parole on February 11 2013.

The Capricornia Correctional Centre as of April 14 2014:

  • There were 471 prisoners incarcerated.
  • The built cell capacity of the high security facility is 410.
  • The farm had 94 prisoners with a capacity for 96.

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