TIME TO REOPEN: Bringing Borallon Correctional Centre back online would ease prisoner overcrowding issues.
TIME TO REOPEN: Bringing Borallon Correctional Centre back online would ease prisoner overcrowding issues. David Nielsen

Borallon reopening a step in right direction

REOPENING Borallon jail to ease worsening prison overcrowding is a move custodial staff's union United Voice would support.

The QT understands there are moves within the State Government to reopen the Ipswich prison that was decommissioned in 2012.

The former LNP state government announced in June last year it would spend $57.3m refurbishing Borallon with a view to opening it in 2015-16 to house approximately 500 male prisoners and create 200 new jobs. Under the plan the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre (SQCC) near Gatton was set to become a women's prison.

That plan did not eventuate, but the poor conditions in prisons have continued to escalate.

United Voice, which represents custodial staff at privately run Wacol jail and SQCC, did a survey of 177 officers which showed that just 16% believed the current number of prisoners is manageable without creating a safety risk.

Only 11% thought there were always enough staff rostered on to ensure safe working conditions.

Assaults in all Queensland jails for the first four months this year were up 47% compared to last year.

Arthur Gorrie Correctional was built to hold 890 inmates but it currently holds 1041 prisoners. SQCC has 380 inmates when it was built to cater for 300.

United Voice's Michael Clifford said custodial staff were "concerned that the staffing level is not appropriate to provide a safe workplace".

"The tensions are there partly because of a doubling up of rooms and because common spaces are overcrowded as well," he said.

Mr Clifford said a move to re-open Borallon would be a step in the right direction.

"We'd welcome that. We'd welcome any move to ease the overcrowding problems," he said.

Corrective Services Minister Jo-Ann Miller said the overcrowding issues were "another sad legacy of the LNP" but said the government was "committed to alleviating prisoner capacity pressure in the short, medium and long term".

She did not rule out the possibility of the government re-opening Borallon.

"If a judge sentences you to jail, then that's where you'll go...and dangerous criminals should be behind bars and any suggestion otherwise is completely absurd," she said.

"I'm working closely with my department on finding workable solutions to this mess that the LNP still refuses to take responsibility for.

"We're not ruling anything in or out at this stage."