‘Serious’ riot underway at the prison

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REPORTS from inside the Alexander Maconochie Centre tonight (May12) say there is a prison riot of male inmates underway.

The sources describe the riot as “serious” and involving up to 30 inmates. The reason for the riot is not known.

In early November “unhappy” detainees started four fires at the Alexander Maconochie Centre after 27 prisoners refused to lock into their cells.

Repairs to the AMC from that riot were estimated to cost more than $2.5 million.

Freedom of Information documents revealed there was a lack of a clear command structure during the emergency; no direct notification to police about the incident by Corrections and then advice received that a “full siege” was taking place; “Inconsistent messages” from the corrections commissioner and concerns for the location and safety of the vulnerable female prisoners.

At the time ACT Council of Social Service CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “We need to fix the prison. ACTCOSS and other community organisations have long been calling for major reform of the AMC.

“The Commonwealth Productivity Commission highlighted ongoing issues of overcrowding, prisoners locked in cells for extended periods, relatively low participation of eligible prisoners in training programs and unacceptable levels of assaults.

“The 2019 Healthy Prison Review by the Inspector of Correctional Services was also highly critical of aspects of AMC operations.

“The Review highlighted gaps in record keeping relating to strip searching, use of force, separate confinement and segregation orders, and time out of cells. This means that oversight bodies cannot fully monitor the wellbeing of detainees. It also reported a lack of access to mental health support.”

Tonight’s unrest comes as indigenous leader Julie Tongs, the CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, says the ACT is the worst-performing government in Australia when it comes to locking up Aboriginal peoples and it is time for a royal commission into indigenous incarceration in the ACT.

She says that in last eight years there has been a 279 per cent increase in Aboriginal incarceration and the Minister for Corrections has advised that 90 per cent of Aboriginal detainees in the AMC have a prior conviction.

“It is clear that the policies and procedures purportedly in place in the ACT to address the disproportionate level of contact of Aboriginal peoples with the different arms of the justice system, whether it be the police, courts, prison, throughcare, community corrections or parole are quite simply failing to address the disproportionate levels of Indigenous incarceration,” she says. 

Corrective services investigate prison riot


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