MEDIA RELEASE BY TERRY O’GORMAN
VICE-PRESIDENT, QUEENSLAND COUNCIL FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES

The Attorney-General and Juvenile Justice Minister Yvette D’Ath has denied that there is a culture of mistreating young offenders in Queensland such as in the Northern Territory but this denial would be more credible if there was an Independent Prisons Inspector.

Civil Liberties Council Vice-President Terry O’Gorman said that allegations of a youth detainee being stripped naked, handcuffed and left in isolation in a Townsville juvenile jail should have been independently investigated, and not internally reviewed within the Youth Justice Portfolio.

“In Western Australia, there has been an Independent Prisons Inspector for years based on the highly successful Independent Prisons Inspectorate model which has operated in the UK for decades”, Mr O’Gorman said.

Mr O’Gorman said that in Queensland there is an internal inspection and investigation system operating in relation to adult and juvenile prisons.

“The problem with this model is that it is the Department investigating itself. This is not a credible accountability model”, Mr O’Gorman said.

Mr O’Gorman said that the strength of the WA and UK models is that the Prisons Inspectorate is truly independent from the adult and juvenile prison bureaucracy, and reports to Parliament and not to the Prisons and Juvenile Justice Minister or the Prisons Department.

“Prisons are out of sight and out of mind in Queensland. The credibility of allegations of mistreatment are dependent on assurances from the Department and the Minister that they have been thoroughly investigated, as the Juvenile Justice Minister Yvette D’Ath said yesterday had occurred in relation to the Townsville juvenile jail assault allegations”, Mr O’Gorman said.

“Queensland prisons are significantly overcrowded. They are violent places but the public rarely gets to see or hear what is going on within the jail walls”, Mr O’Gorman said.

“If Queensland had an independent Inspector of Prisons (adult and juvenile) with power
to do without notice inspections 24 hours a day 7 days a week and with regular reports
to Parliament and not being able to be controlled or directed by the prisons bureaucracy
and the Minister, they would be safer and much more accountable and transparent
places”, Mr O’Gorman said.

Mr O’Gorman can be contacted during business hours on 07 3034 0000 or after hours on 0418 787182