Risdon Prison's maximum security facility doesn't have enough beds to accommodate its growing population, with the head of the prison service revealing it's currently at 120 per cent capacity.
Corrections Minister Elise Archer acknowledged there were "pressures" in maximum security, telling a budget estimates committee today that not enough beds were provided when the prison underwent a redevelopment in the mid-2000s.
"Unfortunately, we have a high number of maximum security-classified prisoners," she said. "And so there is pressure and demand in that area - all the more reason why we need a new facility that we're building - and planning for at this stage - in the North of the state."
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As maximum security overflows with inmates, the Ron Barwick Minimum Security Prison is at just 72 per cent capacity, according to Tasmanian Prison Service director Ian Thomas. "It is a shame that our statistics or our requirements at the moment are where our lower bed numbers are," the minister said.
Meanwhile, Greens corrections spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff asked Ms Archer to explain why prisoner-on-prisoner assaults had increased under the Liberal government.
"When your Liberal government came into power in 2014, the rate of assaults between prisoners per 100 prisoners was 0.64," Dr Woodruff said. "By 2018, it had increased to 1.3 [and] in 2018-19, the latest figures we have, it's now 1.99."
"What's going wrong and what can you do to address this immediately?"
Ms Archer said she "wouldn't characterise it as what's going wrong".
Assaults in any environment are totally unacceptable and the prison is no different," she said. "[There is an] increasing prison population that we see as a national trend occurring.
"The higher prisoner numbers will affect the overall rates of assault, of course, as will the need to accommodate the increasing prisoner population without a comparable increase in infrastructure of prisoner accommodation."
Prisoner assaults are broken down by serious assault, assault and other assault. A serious assault is an act of violence that leaves the victim hospitalised overnight or requiring ongoing treatment; an assault is an act of violence that results in physical injury and; other assault is an act of violence that doesn't result in physical injury.
Mr Thomas said there were many reasons as to why assaults occurred in prison. "[There's] association issues, prisoners will stand over or bully other prisoners for items, including at times contraband," he said.
Ms Archer said correctional officers were sufficiently trained to respond to prisoner-on-prisoner assaults.
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