Queensland prison guards supplied contraband, used excessive force, ignored inmates' medical requests and encouraged prisoners to beat each other, a damning new report has found.
The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) examined accounts from dozens of witnesses, including correctional guards and more than a third of the state's adult prisoners.
Queensland jails are currently at 125 per cent capacity, with prisoner numbers increasing by 43 per cent over the last five years. Indigenous people make up 31 per cent of the prison population.
'Significant corruption risks'
"In the CCC’s view, there are significant corruption risks in Queensland prisons," says the report, which was released on Friday.
"Alleviating prison overcrowding is essential to reducing corruption risk."
The report uncovered a range of corruption issues about guards including:
- physically assaulting or using excessive force against prisoners;
- encouraging prisoners to assault one another;
- selling illegal drugs, phones and weapons to prisoners;
- and having an "inappropriate relationship" with prisoners.
The report also said that corruption rates could be three times what is reported. It said the state's two privately run prisons created challenges for the state to ensure prisoners were treated humanely.
In total, the CCC made 33 recommendations to Queensland Corrective Services, including:
- reviewing how guards are hired;
- rotating prison staff to reduce the risk of corruption;
- broadening powers to search prison staff;
- increasing security camera coverage and body-worn cameras;
- expanding access to emails to decrease the volume of mail entering prison;
- and making an independent inspector review prison facilities.
Report given 'serious consideration'
Queensland Minister for Corrective Services Mark Ryan said the government would consider the recommendations.
“Importantly, this inquiry has been able to shine a light on what works, what doesn’t and what can work better," he said.
“We will give this report and its recommendations serious consideration with a view to providing a detailed response in the coming months."
The state government on Friday announced $15 million in funding over two years for 1,000 extra beds in Queensland prisons.
Earlier this week, the Queensland Government released its youth justice strategy to reduce youth crime.