Australasian biker news

Home Bike News Rides  Events Tech Links

Queensland bikie prison plan is 'madness', civil rights groups say

Council for Civil Liberties says Campbell Newman's proposal treats motorcycle gang members like terrorists

MAn in handcuffs


The proposed new prison will be used to house the "highest risk members" of criminal motorcycle gangs. Photograph: Sean Smith/Guardian
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,
Campbell Newman, 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 groups aghast.

Terry O'Gorman, vice-president of the
Queensland Council for Civil Liberties, told Guardian Australia 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 Gold Coast.

"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."