A Queensland government plan for a new maximum security jail specifically for bikie gang members is "madness" that will exacerbate crime rather than alleviate it, civil rights groups say.
A special ultra-secure facility at Woodford
Correctional Centre will be used to house the
"highest risk members" of criminal motorcycle gangs.
Prisoners will face a tough regime that will include
no TVs in cells, no access to gym facilities,
"frequent, proactive" cell searches and restricted
hours out of the cell, potentially as little as one
hour a day.
All phone calls by inmates will be monitored, other
than those to their legal representatives, while
their mail will be opened, searched and censored.
There will be a one-hour limit for non-contact
visits from family members.
The Queensland premier,
said inmates would "do hard time and I make no
apologies for that".
"This government is getting tough on these
criminals, whether they are on the streets or in our
jails," he said.
But the plans have left civil liberties and law
Terry O'Gorman, vice-president of the
Queensland Council for Civil
the proposal was "madness."
"It proposes to treat bikies like terrorists in
supermax facilities," he said. "Quite apart from the
sheer extremism of it, it doesn't really make sense
to concentrate their presence to a narrow
geographical area. It is likely to aggravate the
problem rather than disperse it.
"Where is the evidence this is needed? There has
been a decrease in assaults on prison officers in
the past 12 months and no reported problem with
drugs or recruiting bikie members. This is just a
shock-and-awe tactic to keep people in solitary
confinement, which has been shown to be seriously
destructive to mental health."
O'Gorman said the move was the latest in a series of
regressive Queensland government law and order
initiatives. The plan for the bikie jail comes just
two weeks after a
full-scale brawl between rival
bikie gangs on the
"We are seeing an alarming reversion to a
Bjelke-Petersen sort of approach," he said. "This is
crass law and order politics."
Annette Bradfield, the president of the Queensland
Law Society, told Guardian Australia the jail plan
was "quite frightening".
"A major concern is the lack of consultation," she
said. "Ordinarily when laws are made the government
comes to us to ask for feedback. But we've seen
nothing. It's a very unusual way to deal with it.
"It sets a very bad precedent to start special laws
for special groups of people. How are you going to
tell the good bikies from the bad bikies, exactly?
"To separate these people in prison is almost like
they are beyond redemption. Like any criminal in
jail, we need to assist them with rehabilitation
programmes so that once they are released they can
learn from the error of their ways."