Prison overcrowding ‘putting guards at risk’

The Public Service Association says overcrowding in South Australia’s prisons is leading to increased violence among prisoners and towards guards.

It says most of the cells in South Australia’s prisons were built for one person, but virtually every cell now has two prisoners and in some cases up to four.

The association’s chief industrial officer, Peter Christopher, says prisoners with mental health issues are often sharing cells.

He says the situation is putting guards at risk.

“The state simply cannot wait for several years before another prison is built,” he said.

“It can’t wait until there’s a death or serious injury before this is dealt with.

“You have people who are perhaps violent, also being put in the same cell as a mental health person.

“It’s a very unsatisfactory situation for all concerned and very dangerous for our members.”

However, the Correctional Service Department says there is no evidence that sharing cells has caused more violence.

The Department’s chief executive, Peter Severin, says putting two prisoners in a cell is necessary because prisoner numbers are continuing to rise.

He says prisoners are carefully assessed before they are put in the same cell.

“If there are indications that prisoners are not suitable to be placed in double-up accommodation, then they will be accommodated in a single cell,” he said

source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/10/04/2382119.htm

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