Overcrowding and “inhumane conditions” have been blamed for an attack on staff at Risdon Prison.
Five guards were allegedly punched and kicked by maximum security inmates on Monday and it was an incident prisoner advocate Greg Barns said the state government had been warned was coming.
“We have been warning for some months that there will be violence at the prison, it is an invetibale consequence of overcrowding and the mistreatment of prisoners,” the Prison Legal Service chairman said.
“We do not blame staff, conditions in the maximum security unit are inhumane and you are locking people up for 21 to 22 hours a day, with very little rehabilitation prospects.
“The prison has also been forced to place people in parts of the [facility] where they shouldn’t be because of the overcrowding.”
But Corrections Minister Elise Archer said the attack had nothing to do with the prison’s capacity, rather a “non-compliant prisoner”.
“Maximum security capacity was at 92 per cent, with 81 more beds beginning to come online,” she said.
“There is never any excuse for violence in the prison.
“All frontline workers have the right to work without being assaulted, which is exactly why the government introduced strong legislation that sends the message that such behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Ms Archer said any potential issues with capacity at the prison were being addressed, with plans for new prison infrastructure across the state revealed in last week’s state budget.
Those plans included $70 million for a southern remand centre, which would house at least 70 prisoners.
A further $45 million was committed within the next four years, with the funds to go towards the first stage of the new Northern Prison.
The new prison is expected to include 270 beds, with potential sites currently being investigated.
Tasmania Police is continuing to investigate Monday’s attack, which left at least one of the guards with a broken bone.
No charges had been laid on Tuesday.