Pressure is building on the government to release its plans for a new jail after the state’s Custodial Inspector issued a damning assessment of the current prison system.
In a report released by Richard Connock this week, Risdon Prison was portrayed as overcrowded, out-dated and “a particularly unpleasant place”.
He noted little had changed at the facility in 16 years and that continual growth in prisoner numbers seemed to be the prison service’s greatest issue, noting a 25-per-cent increase in 2014 and 2015.
“Almost all the state’s prisons are over-crowded in the sense that they hold many more people than they were designed to hold,” Mr Connock said.
“This is because many cells intended for one person are now ‘double-bunked’ and some cells intended for two people are now ‘triple-bunked’.”
He noted issues with cell temperature, plumbing and electrical systems, and unsatisfactory kitchen facilities.
Mr Connock said he doubted whether the Launceston Reception Prison was fit for purpose and that there was no access to natural light and airflow within cells.
Labor justice spokeswoman Lara Giddings called upon the government to seriously commit to construction of a new prison in Northern Tasmania.
“Risdon Prison is now so overcrowded and so substandard that minimum security prisoners are being put in the path of danger and held in medium and maximum security and access to rehabilitative programs is limited,” she said.
Corrections Minister Elise Archer deflected the issue of a new prison in Parliament and referred to the planned release soon of a further 81 prison beds in the south.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Assets Recovery Unit has claimed $2 million in forfeiture and unexplained wealth orders in the past 18 months.
The Director of Public Prosecutions also revealed in his annual report, released on Wednesday, that sex crime convictions increased in 2016-17 and now represented 16 per cent of all convictions.