Prison Guard exposes true violence in our prisons
A SIGN on the wall states "Sexual assault is not tolerated in correctional centres".
It is a warning to inmates and is meant to deter them from violent acts while behind bars.
So far this financial year, until April 30, official figures show 15 prisoners have been victims of sexual assaults in Queensland's prisons, and a further 176 prisoners have been physically hurt. But a guard at one of the state's highest security prisons says these acts occur "daily".
He said the State Government's figure was botched, and that twice as many serious assaults were occurring.
"In the past month, a guard at one prison has been cut, one had been slashed with a home-made knife and another had their ear nearly bitten off," the guard, who did not want to be named, said.
"The public don't know this because they (the Department of Corrective Services) changed the definition of assault because the assault rate was getting so ridiculous, so they moved the goal posts.
"Our assault rate is actually horrendous. They are violent, graphic and physical - and they happen all the time."
A day in one of Queensland's 13 prisons starts with a staff briefing, followed by a head count at 7am.
From there the day begins and prisoners are let out of their cells to carry out their daily chores, including education, industry training and to medical or court appointments.
Prisoners are given the choice to attend work while serving time - but it is not compulsory.
"You can't compel a prisoner to do anything. They can go back with the same skills as they came in with, which is none," the guard said.
"That is why so many are repeat offenders, because instead of improving their skills inside, they will just leave and go back to doing whatever criminal act got them in jail to start with."
Guards are stationed throughout the prison to watch the inmates while they move throughout the facility.
The guard said two trained security officers were stationed to watch as many as 50 prisoners at once.
"It is during these times that both staff and other prisoners are at risk because we just don't have the capacity to watch each prisoner all the time," the guard said.
"Nothing will stop someone being dragged out of sight for a few minutes."
As well as sexual gratification, the use and sale of drugs has been identified as the major cause of assaults.
But according to the Department of Corrective Services, just 4% of prisoners were testing positive to drugs. The guard said in reality the figure was probably 15% of the prison population.
"Drugs in correctional centres are rampant," he said.
"The exchange of drugs usually occurs during visits.
"The prisoner then 'banks' the drugs in their anal cavity and we have no chance of finding it."
The most common drug used in prisons is called Subutex or "subbies", which is a substitute for methadone, the guard said.
Drug testing, strip searches and drug detection dogs are used to prevent illicit substances entering the prisons. But the guard said funding for these had been reduced, which meant more illegal substances were getting through.
"The strip search of prisoners has been watered down to next to useless," he said.
Should more resources be put into ending violence and rape in prison?
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