'Solution' for prison refused

A MAINLAND storage company has offered to sell the state government shipping containers specially designed to house prisoners.

A letter obtained by The Examiner showed New South Wales-based company Royal Wolf has written to the Tasmanian Government to offer "modular accommodation solutions" for over-populated prisons.

The company provided the Victorian Government with 300 urgent prison beds at five Department of Justice locations to alleviate accommodation issues.

"I would be very pleased to discuss modular accommodation solutions with you including the provision of budget hire and sale options and installation programs to allow comparison of a modular prison accommodation solution with conventional prison infrastructure," the letter said.

The letter comes as the state government is in stead to phase out suspended sentences as an option in Tasmanian courts.

The policy has been widely criticised by political opponents and the legal community, who argue the sentencing option is effective, and removing it would see a hike in the state's prison population.

Victoria abolished suspended sentences last year and was warned by the Sentencing Advisory Panel of a looming bed crisis.

Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin has stood by the policy, and has said the community considered suspended sentences a soft option, and harsher deterrents were needed.

A government spokeswoman yesterday said the government would not be buying shipping containers to house prisoners.

"Our prisons are well below capacity," the spokeswoman said.

The government has asked the Sentencing Advisory Council to examine ways of removing suspended sentences and look at possible replacements.

The council has been asked to investigate a range of alternatives and report back in 18 months.

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