CRACKDOWN: Huge sentences for prisoners who attack staff
A union director has welcomed tougher penalties for prisoners who assault correctional officers saying the matching punishment dished out for attacks on emergency services workers will act as a deterrent.
A prisoner who seriously assaults a Queensland Corrective Services officer will now face a maximum penalty of 14 years' jail after the Corrective Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 passed in state parliament this week.
Changes also prohibit staff from having sexual relationships with prisoners and drug and alcohol testing for officers.
"This rightfully matches the penalty that applies to anyone assaulting a police officer and other frontline services officers," Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan said.
"There are also greater powers to search staff and visitors to detect and prevent contraband and authorise the alcohol and drug testing of officers and corrective services recruits.
"The bill also makes it an offence for a parolee to remove or tamper with a GPS device. A person who does so faces up to three months in prison in addition to any other consequences or sanctions which may include being returned to custody for the remainder of that person's original sentence."
Together Union industrial services director Michael Thomas said the amendments would help keep prison staff safe.
"We have been pressing for these changes to the law for some time now, there was a petition with more than 4500 people calling for it," he said.
"Minister Ryan pushed through these changes, the penalties for assaulting a custodial correctional officer are in line with police. We think it's vitally important officers are protected and can go to work and come home safely, it's very welcome.
"We think it's appropriate and we are really pleased that this occurred."
It comes as a spate of assaults occurred at the Townsville Correctional Centre in June and at other facilities across the state.
Four Townsville custodial correctional officers were injured after a prisoner in the Detention Unit lashed out at them.
Less than two weeks earlier, multiple prison staff were taken to the Townsville University Hospital for facial injuries after being struck in the face by a prisoner when they were delivering medication.
Originally published as CRACKDOWN: Huge sentences for prisoners who attack staff