State budget does nothing to alleviate prison overcrowding

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has raised concerns that the State Budget does nothing to alleviate the chronic overcrowding in the State’s prison system.

WAPOU Secretary John Welch said the State Government had no provision in its budget to open enough new cells, or to compensate for the impact of its tough new burglary laws.

“While the budget does acknowledge there is a risk the legislation will increase WA’s adult and juvenile prison populations due to lengthened sentences, there is no extra funding to accommodate them,” he said.

“New figures show that Albany regional prison is already overcrowded, and these new laws will only exacerbate the problem.”

“We have already had one riot at Albany prison and if nothing is done to alleviate the overcrowding, there will be more.”

Mr Welch said the figures showed the design capacity of Albany prison was 190, but it was understood there were around 318 prisoners.

“The government previously introduced bunk beds into the prison which allowed it to cram two prisoners into cells originally built for one,” he said.

“The frustrating thing is that Albany already has the capacity to house more prisoners in their own cells.

“There is a unit at the prison which is sitting idle. It was supposed to be refurbished 18 months ago, but still hasn’t been completed and opened because the government won’t provide the resources or pay for the staff to run it.”

Mr Welch said overcrowding led to problems with anti social behaviour and violence and was dangerous for both prisoners and staff.