QLD opposition claims prisoners are being let out early

Maryborough Correctional Centre.
Maryborough Correctional Centre. Valerie Horton

QUEENSLAND'S opposition claims prisoners are being released early from the state's correctional centres because of a chronic problem of overcrowding.

The LNP's shadow corrective services minister Tim Mander said on Sunday the state's prisons were at an average capacity of 112.2% in January 2016, compared to 107.3% in January 2015.

"Prisoners shouldn't be rewarded with early release simply because Labor doesn't have a plan to accommodate them and this approach is well below community expectations," Mr Mander said.

He particularly took on Queensland corrective services minister Bill Byrne.

"This is the man who in Opposition said 'the Corrective Services Minister needs to be held personally responsible' for any incidents as a result of prison overcrowding and the LNP will hold him to that standard," Mr Mander said.

Back in January 2014, one year before the LNP lost power, Mr Byrne attacked the then-Newman government for dangerously overcrowded prisons.

In a statement issued on January 17, 2014, Mr Byrne said the LNP Government hid data on prisoner numbers for four months.

An Australian Bureau of Statistics report issued in June 2014 showed prisoner numbers in Queensland went from 5600 in June 2012 to 7141 in June 2014.

The number of prisoners had been stable at 5600 for several years before 2012, coinciding with the LNP taking power.

Overcrowding has remained a chronic problem since then and is now as bad as ever, according to the LNP's statement.

Mr Mander labelled the prisoners being released as crooks.

"While the LNP had budgeted $61 million for 650 beds across the state, in almost 18 months, Labor has delivered just 100 of those beds," he said.

"Instead of delivering those prison beds, Labor's answer is to let the crooks back on the street."

Prison staff held strikes at five correctional centres across the state earlier this month in protest against the overcrowding.

One of the most overcrowded prisons in the state is Wolston Correctional Centre.

As of April 20, 743 prisoners were in the prison, including 132 sleeping in double-up accommodation. It has a capacity of about 600.

Some hopes of relieving the overcrowding rest on a refurbished prison opening later this year in south-east Queensland.

The Queensland Government is in the midst of re-opening the defunct Borrallon Correctional Centre.

It is expected to be open within a matter of months and will have 250 beds.

Topics:  bill byrne corrective services editors picks queensland goverment tim mander

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