Jump in serious prisoner assaults
SERIOUS prisoner- on- prisoner assaults in the state’s jails are up more than 62 per cent, the latest report released by the Department of Justice has revealed.
A serious assault is defined as one requiring overnight hospitalisation, ongoing medical treatment or any sexual assault.
Assaults are measured by the number of victims, not the number of attackers or events.
When compared with the previous financial year, serious prisoner-on-prisoner assaults increased from eight to 13 in 2018-19, according to the department’s annual report tabled in parliament on Wednesday.
There were zero serious prisoner-on-staff assaults during the same period, down two from 2017-18. But less serious assaults involving an act of physical violence resulting in injury to staff members jumped by 17 per cent from 18 to 21.
There were also 10 more minor assaults recorded between detainees, with 79 in 2017-18 and 89 in 2018-19.
The report also showed the average out-of-cell hours per prisoner per day was 7.9 last financial year, compared to 8.5 the previous year.
Prisoners Legal Service chair Greg Barns said worsening conditions behind bars had caused inmates to become more and more aggressive.
“The Prisoners Legal Service predicted 12 months ago that if the Government did not reduce the number of prisoners drastically there would be increased violence,” he said. “Sadly, we have been proven to be right.
“You can expect a further increase because the minister’s recent personal intervention to remove prisoners who have committed serious offences from minimum security to maximum security has created enormous tensions.”
Labor corrections spokeswoman Ella Haddad said the report painted “a damning picture of the prison system under the Liberals’ watch”.
“It is clear that overcrowding and underfunding of the system has led to this dangerous situation,” Ms Haddad said.
Corrections Minister Elise Archer said the Government acknowledged more needed to be done. She said 119 new corrections officers had been recruited since May 2016 and an “unprecedented recruitment campaign” had started to hire up to 90 more over the next 12 months.