In a case decided by Justice Applegarth of the Queensland Supreme Court on 12 December 2013 there was an extensive review of the solitary confinement conditions in which bikies are now being placed in Queensland prisons.

Justice Applegarth noted that the conditions under which a person will serve a term of imprisonment are relevant matters to be taken into account – at least where those conditions are shown to be different from, and more onerous than, the conditions undergone by other prisoners.

In reviewing the international literature in relation to solitary confinement, Justice Applegarth noted that the prospect that a prisoner will serve some of the period in solitary confinement will not always justify some reduction in sentence. Solitary confinement does not mitigate when it is caused by the offender, for example by attempting to escape.

Justice Applegarth referred to an affidavit by a high ranking official of Queensland Corrective Services in this case which notes that a person who is identified as a bikie is subject to the following conditions in jail and that all identified bikie prisoners whether remand, sentenced or protection will be subject to the following Restricted Management Regime:

  • No visits from other bikie members or affiliates (this also includes family members).
  • Bikies will only be entitled to a one-hour non-contact personal visit with family members per week.
  • Bikie prisoner phone calls are restricted to seven personal phone calls per week of six minutes duration.

Justice Applegarth noted that the adverse health effects of solitary confinement have been well established and that international instruments view it as “an extreme prison practice which should only be used as a last resort and then for only short periods of time”.

The judgment further noted that more recent studies have reaffirmed that solitary confinement has a profound, adverse impact on the health of prisoners and that research indicates that many who have been subject to solitary confinement are at risk of long term psychological damage.

The case notes that prisoners who are subject to solitary confinement for longer than ten days have demonstrated some negative health effects and that the probability of being admitted (for treatment) for psychiatric reasons was about 20 times as high as for a person remanded in non-solitary confinement for the same period of time.

Reputable bodies advocate that the use of solitary confinement should be reserved for extreme cases and for as short a time as possible.

The judgment refers to a 2007 Statement on the Use and Effects of Solitary Confinement adopted in December 2007 at the International Psychological Trauma Symposium where it was noted that it has been convincingly documented on numerous occasions that solitary confinement may cause serious psychological and sometimes physiological ill effects and that negative effects can occur after only a few days in solitary confinement and the health risks rise with each additional day spent in such conditions. The Statement noted that such practices can amount to torture in contravention of international law.

The Statement concluded that solitary confinement harms prisoners who were not previously mentally ill and tends to worsen the mental health of those who are.


This is the first Queensland Supreme Court consideration of the harsh law and order inspired jail practices initiated by the Queensland Attorney-General Bleijie. If any evidence was needed, this judgment clearly demonstrates that people treated like caged animals in jail will when released be severely mentally and probably physically health damaged. How is this consistent with rehabilitation.