Private Prisons in Queensland Returning to Public Control

04 April 2019

Tuesday 26 March 2019 the Queensland Government announced they are taking back control of their two privately run prisons from GEO Group and Serco.

The Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre (GEO) and Southern Queensland Correctional Centre (Serco) have been the subject of a Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission inquiry which found that the number of assaults on staff was much higher in the private prisons compared to state prisons due to the low staff numbers. The finding is consistent with similar investigations into private prisons around the world.

The PSA has been campaigning against the privatisation of the Adelaide Remand Centre since the decision was announced in the last State Budget (September 2018) without any prior staff or public input into the decision.

Treasurer Lucas stated to the PSA prior to the election that his government would not seek to privatise services unless it was in the public interest to do so. The Government is still yet to provide any evidence that it is in the public interest to privatise the Adelaide Remand Centre despite signing a contract with Serco, one the companies involved in the Queensland fiasco.

Announcing the Queensland government’s decision to take back control of their privately run prisons today, Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan said "This will cost extra money but we think that this is justified and it is in the public interest."

The Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission report said the two prisons were run by multi-national, profit-driven corporations that had their own ethical climate and "tone at the top".

"This marketised approach, where prisons are operated by private, profit-driven organisations, disconnects the state from direct responsibility for the delivery of privately operated prisons," the report said.

"This model creates challenges for the state in ensuring prisoners detained in privately-operated facilities are treated humanely and have appropriate access to programs and services."

The prisons are being returned to public control in an effort to reduce the alarmingly high number of assaults on staff. The same report found the entire prison system was overcrowded and rife with corruption, and cited instances of staff supplying drugs or weapons to inmates, colluding to avoid searches and coaxing prisoners to bash fellow inmates.

The PSA continues our campaign against the Government’s decision to privatise the Adelaide Remand Centre.