Drugs, overcrowding part of challenge for new prison GM

DRUGS being smuggled into Maryborough Correctional Centre and overcrowding are two of the biggest challenges new prison general manager Louise Kneeshaw will face.

But she says there are plenty of positives when it comes to working in corrective services, including working with a great team and helping prisoners change their lives and rehabilitate.

Ms Kneeshaw joined the service as a custodial officer in 1988 and she was mostly recently the regional manager of the probation and parole service in the North Region.

The prison is currently home to 674 prisoners, more than 30% above its capacity of 500.

While overcrowding at the prison was a concern, the centre had recently welcomed nine new correctional staff to deal with the influx of prisoners, Ms Kneeshaw said.

Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders, who welcomed the arrival of Ms Kneeshaw yesterday, said the safety of officers at the prison was paramount.

"We're lucky to have Louise here with her expertise," he said.

Mr Saunders said currently there were no plans to expand the prison.

But he was hoping that with mental health services, clinics providing education on drugs and work being carried out with high schools would hopefully stem the number of people committing crimes that led to time behind bars.

Ms Kneeshaw said her role was to support her officers in what was often a challenging environment.

She said just as in the community, drugs were an issue for the correctional centre.

"The drug issue is a focus," she said.

Another area Ms Kneeshaw wanted to focus on was supporting community projects and not-for-profit organisations through the activities the prisoners' undertook at the centre.

"It's important for the prisoners accommodated here to give back to the community," she said.

Ms Kneeshaw said there were a lot of rewarding stories from her time in the correctional service, especially families sticking by those serving time.

Topics:  bruce saunders dugs maryborough prison overcrowding

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