Kevin Davenport jail inmate appeared on ABC's 7:30. Picture: 7:30/ABC
Kevin Davenport jail inmate appeared on ABC's 7:30. Picture: 7:30/ABC

Shocking level of violence revealed in QLD jail

PRISONER bashings, officer assaults and attempted suicides are just some of the serious incidents happening inside a maximum security jail in Brisbane, an internal investigation has revealed.

"Arthur Gorrie inside, if I had to use a term, it would probably be one of the most nastiest and corrupt prisons I've been in," said Kevin Davenport, who has done two stints inside

the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre.

The 24-year-old left the prison in April after serving time for a parole violation for offences involving drugs, fraud and assaulting police.

The Crime and Corruption Commission has launched an investigation into Queensland's prison system and Arthur Gorrie - the state's largest correctional centre - featured prominently at the recent public hearings.

Ex-prisoner Davenport spoke to the ABC on its 7.30 program on Wednesday night revealing gory details of the happenings inside the 'nasty' Arthur Gorrie prison - saying he wouldn't even wish it upon his worst enemies.

"I have been eating my dinner and the next thing I have seen someone get sliced from the back of their ear to the front of their jaw and bleed in front of you and there is nothing you can do," he said.

Former inmates and serving officers, who couldn't go on camera because of fear of recrimination gave statements to the ABC, labelling chronic overcrowding and poor management for fuelling violence

"There are so many inmates compared to officers that if you want to bash someone you can. Just drag them into the toilet and off you go," a former prisoner said.

An officer described a recent incident where a prisoner barricaded himself in a cell, so they took off the door. "Then they dragged him out into the hallway and beat the absolute f**k out of him until he became unconscious."

Located at Wacol in the western suburbs of Brisbane, Arthur Gorrie is managed by GEO Group Australia, a subsidiary of the controversial United States prison giant GEO, and is currently up for tender.

A 2017 report by the state's Chief Inspector of Prisons revealed between 2013 and 2016 the prison was at 155 per cent capacity with serious assaults up 500 per cent and sexual assault up 700 per cent.

It also detailed how there were two attempted suicides in 2012 and 25 in 2016.

Davenport explained he had seen a lot of inmates being bashed in a cell "with someone else simply because the inmate was in there first and don't want them in their cell".

"They are short of room so staff put them in there and they don't assess their security risk. So it is overcrowded and there is a lot of tension in the jail at the moment and they are not doing anything to fix it."


Inside the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre.
Inside the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre.


According to the report, Arthur Gorrie's rate of prisoner-on-prisoner assault in 2016 was double the rate of the next most violent prison.

"... it is highly likely that the degree of 'doubling up' (or overcrowding) combined with a lack of 'out of unit' activity, is contributing to a higher level of violence at the centre than would otherwise be the case," the 2017 report said.

A former inmate, who served four stints at Arthur Gorrie, most recently in 2016, confirmed this was the case. "They're jamming everyone in, they're turning 50 man units into 80 man units," he said.

But it's not just prisoner-on-prisoner violence. Another officer, who chose not to be identified, told the ABC about an alleged incident - that he said he heard about from colleagues - where a prisoner barricaded himself in a cell.

"Officers couldn't get in, so they had to take the door off," he said in a statement to the ABC.

"Because these people aren't trained properly, they went in and they dragged him out, dragged him out into the hallway and then they beat the absolute f**k out of him until he became unconscious and they had to radio for an ambulance because he stopped breathing."

Damien Davie, of United Voice, the union that represents many of Arthur Gorrie's prison officers, told the ABC that they simply didn't have enough staff to safely manage the prison.

However, GEO told the CCC's public hearing that Arthur Gorrie was not understaffed and that it abided by its union agreement on officer numbers.

"We had a situation where one officer got knocked down and a group of inmates kicked the hell out of him and it was up to 10 minutes before there was even a response to help this officer out," Mr Davie said.

"It's only a matter of time with this overcrowding and understaffing that there's going to be a staff fatality at Arthur Gorrie."

The company declined to comment to the ABC and stated that it would be improper to make a statement while the corruption watchdog was investigating.

"It is one of the most deadliest prisons to be in. I wouldn't wish that jail upon any of my worstest enemies because of how badly it is run and how corrupt the system is in there," ex-inmate Davenport said.