Overcrowding in prisons reaching crisis levels, says union

OVERCROWDING in prisons is "reaching crisis levels" according to the union for prison workers.

And the government's taste for locking people up is being blamed.

Figures released by the office of Corrective Services reveal Wolston Correctional Centre was 111% capacity on February 20.

Together Union director of industrial services Michael Thomas said this level of overpopulation was seen across the four state-run prisons in Wacol.

"All prisons are overcrowded," he said.

"I'm waiting for this to blow up. It's reaching crisis levels."

Mr Thomas said previously decommissioned prison wings were being opened by the State Government.

According to a spokesman from the office of Corrective Services all prisons could use temporary beds and "double-up placements" as part of "surge capacity".

"Wolston Correctional Centre has a total built capacity to accommodate 614 prisoners.

As at February 20, there were 686 prisoners in secure custody," the spokesman said.

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

"To efficiently manage these fluctuations, all Queensland prisons have the ability to employ a 'surge capacity' strategy.

"This includes double-up placements in cells and the use of temporary beds.

"All prisoners considered for accommodation in a cell with another placement are subject to an individual suitability assessment."

Mr Thomas said the prisons across Queensland, including the Wacol prisons, were seeing prisoners sleeping on the floor with union members reporting increases in assaults.

"Prisoners are sleeping on mattresses on the floor," he said.

"This is creating additional stresses on prisoners and on staff."

Mr Thomas blamed the State Government's policies.

"We're seeing a reduction in people being released," he said.

"This government is more interested in locking people up.

"It leads to prisoners who aren't being rehabilitated and are less ready for release into the community."

The office of the Attorney-General did not respond to a request for comment.

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