Valerie Horton

Fears for staff safety as Maryborough prison over capacity

THERE is no end in sight for overcrowding at the Maryborough jail, with dozens of prisoners forced to sleep on the floor in cramped cells.

The prison is 25 inmates over its 516-person capacity, and a prison officer predicts the number of inmates will soon hit 600 - increasing risks to prisoners and staff.

The officer, who spoke to the Chronicle on the condition of anonymity, said while official figures put the number at 541, he believed there were about 550 inmates in the centre.

The officer said mattresses were put on the floor to accommodate the extra numbers.

He said the overcrowding might cause prisoners to become agitated.

"It's got the potential to be very dangerous," he said.

Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said prison populations changed over time due to a range of factors.

"In Queensland, all prisons have the ability to use short term 'surge capacity' which includes double cells and trundle beds," Mr Bleijie said.

The Chronicle asked Mr Bleijie if the Maryborough Correctional Centre would be expanded.

"In the 2013-14 Budget, the government committed to over $40 million to additional works for Queensland Corrective Services," he said.

The officer said MCC management had not done enough to ensure staff safety.

He also predicts the overcrowding will continue.

Prisoner numbers

  •  One year ago - 469
  •  Six months ago - 499
  •  One month ago - 516
  •  Monday - 541