BEHIND THE WALLS: A person has stopped breathing at Rockhampton's prison.
BEHIND THE WALLS: A person has stopped breathing at Rockhampton's prison. PAUL MILLER

Ex-inmate shows the community what prison life is like

A FORMER Rockhampton prisoner has painted a bleak picture of what life is like on the inside at the full-to-capacity Capricornia Correctional Centre.

In a letter to The Morning Bulletin, the ex-prisoner claimed the cells at the centre, which were designed for one man only, housed two inmates.

His comments came after a Morning Bulletin report in yesterday's edition revealed the correctional centre was stretched to the limit with 504 prisoners and 410 cells.

The former inmate, who has not been identified but was jailed for fraud, said tensions from the overcrowding contributed to outbreaks of violence.

The blocks contained 30 cells housing 46 prisoners. Remember, the cells were designed for just one prisoner, the ex-inmate wrote.

Sixteen of those cells were occupied by two prisoners; one slept on the floor.

"This area is so small, to watch television you have to lay with your head at the front of the toilet and it can be quite distressing... if a fellow prisoner is on medication," he said.

"Lock-up time is 5.15pm and you are let out at 7.30am... so (two people) are spending more than 14 hours a day in a one-man cell the size of most people's bathrooms."

He claimed the block eating area was not designed for 46 prisoners to sit and eat. People had to sit outside to eat their meals.

"But because you are fed at 4pm, some prisoners eat in their cell, which is not hygienic to say the least."

At a session they call "gym and oval time" (which was one hour a day), about 90-plus prisoners from two blocks would get together.

Only 30 were allowed to take part in "gym and oval time"; the rest were locked back up in their cells.

"I could go on but the editor will run out of ink... so for now, I hope this is a further insight into the reality of the Capricornia Correctional Centre," he said.

"The indigenous population in the correctional centre is well over 60%, most of which are mostly from Central Queensland."

A Queensland Corrective Services spokesman said the number of single cells in no way reflected a correctional centre's capacity.

"Queensland corrective centres are fully scalable to ensure prisoner numbers - which fluctuate for a range of reasons - can be accommodated at any given point in time."

The spokesman said QCS had implemented several approaches to safely incarcerate inmates including dual occupancy within cells designed for such use, the use of temporary bunk beds, trundle beds and mattresses in secure cell or residential areas.

"It has numerous other options available, if required... QCS always matches resource to risk, ensuring appropriate staffing levels across correctional centres."

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