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Over-crowded Correctional Centre a worry

PRESSURE-COOKER: Maryborough Correctional Centre dog squad supervisor Peter Baumanis in the centre.
PRESSURE-COOKER: Maryborough Correctional Centre dog squad supervisor Peter Baumanis in the centre. Robyne Cuerel

MARYBOROUGH Correctional Centre is still packed to the rafters with an extra 78 prisoners over its official capacity - but the new corrective services minister says she is searching for a solution.

There are 578 prisoners in the correctional facility, despite figures revealing it can only house 500 inmates at any given time.

This is 40 more inmates than two years ago.

The over-crowding issue across the state's 11 high-security prisons has authorities concerned - and worried Maryborough staff members have previously spoken to the Chronicle about their fears that the pressure-cooker environment will erupt into violence.

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."

About 141 Fraser Coast residents are 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.

Topics:  jo-ann miller, maryborough correctional centre, overcrowding



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