‘Ludicrous’ claim slammed after massive Qld prison riot

 

Prison officials claim they can't estimate the damage bill from the Arthur Gorrie jail COVID-19 lockdown riot which trashed 170 cells.

Inmates began damaging their cells - including flooding them and lighting fires - after they were locked in their cells for prolonged periods during a Stage 4 lockdown in September.

It was sparked by three academy officers and two Arthur Gorrie officers contracting the virus.

Some prison officers had been told the damage bill would be in the millions of dollars however a corrective services spokesman said they were unable to provide any figure.

Damage to Arthur Gorrie jail after a riot last year. Picture: Ch 7
Damage to Arthur Gorrie jail after a riot last year. Picture: Ch 7

The jail is the state's remand centre and is one of the biggest in Queensland with more than 1000 prisoners.

Queensland Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Martin. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Queensland Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Martin. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

When asked about the issue during Estimates, Commissioner Peter Martin said it was "almost impossible" to put a figure on the damage, partly due to the fact remediation work at the jail was already underway before the riot.

Damage to Arthur Gorrie jail after a riot last year. Picture: Ch 7
Damage to Arthur Gorrie jail after a riot last year. Picture: Ch 7

But he said 170 cells, or 19 per cent of the prison rooms, had minor to severe damage.

There were 28 cells unable to be used after the riot, 92 with broken external windows and 95 had broken cell door viewing windows, 44 had electrical damage and 11 were fire damaged.

Arthur Gorrie jail after the riot. Picture: Annette Dew
Arthur Gorrie jail after the riot. Picture: Annette Dew

"The reality is that, because we were remediating the site, many of the windows and doors - the things that needed to be replaced - were already earmarked for remediation or rectification as a result of the site that we had inherited when the site migrated to government control on 1 July," Commissioner Martin told Estimates late last year.

"I can tell you what that totals - I cannot tell you here and now - but the reality is that, regrettably, I cannot tell you what was caused specifically as a result of the damage that occurred back at that time."

After prisoners trashed their cells they were given lollies, chips and soft drinks in what officers dubbed as "show bags" for criminals.

Bags packed for prisoners after riot at Arthur Gorrie jail. Picture: Queensland Corrective Services
Bags packed for prisoners after riot at Arthur Gorrie jail. Picture: Queensland Corrective Services

Prison bosses said the 2000-plus packs were just an interim measure and told officers the packs were to "help restore good order".

Bags packed for prisoners after riot at Arthur Gorrie jail. Picture: Queensland Corrective Services
Bags packed for prisoners after riot at Arthur Gorrie jail. Picture: Queensland Corrective Services

 

Together Union industrial services director Michael Thomas said the riots cost taxpayers a significant amount of money.

"This is government, all spending has to be authorised," he said.

"The spending that the department undertook to get the damaged cells back to being able to hold prisoners must've been authorised, must've been accounted for and must be quantifiable.

"The suggestion the department doesn't know how much is ludicrous."

Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre. Picture: NCA NewWire / Dan Peled
Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre. Picture: NCA NewWire / Dan Peled

After the riot Mr Martin said the prisoners would be held accountable.

"We always hold the prisoner accountable for the behaviour and also for any damage that occurs," he said.

"The taxpayer should not have to underwrite this."

When asked if prisoners had been ordered to pay restitution the QCS spokesman said inmates who intentionally damaged infrastructure faced disciplinary measures and loss of privileges.

"They are also referred to police for consideration of criminal charges. Restitution may be ordered by the court as part of the legal process."
 

Originally published as 'Ludicrous' claim slammed after massive Qld prison riot


Shameful toll: Three dead in 61 days since state’s DV pledge

Premium Content Shameful toll: Three dead in 61 days since state’s DV pledge

Mum becomes third alleged Qld DV murder victim in two months

Patient, 93, left waiting as Premier grandstands

Premium Content Patient, 93, left waiting as Premier grandstands

Elderly Qld woman left waiting four hours at hospital after fall

FULL LIST: Stanthorpe Magistrates Court appearances today

Premium Content FULL LIST: Stanthorpe Magistrates Court appearances today

Here is a list of matters listed at Stanthorpe Magistrates Court on Wednesday.