3 June 2021

Prison riot caused by drunk inmates: Human Rights Commissioner

| Dominic Giannini
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Alexander Maconochie Centre

The riot earlier this month involved drunk inmates. Photo: File.

A riot at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) involving 28 detainees in May was supposedly caused by drunk inmates, the ACT Human Rights Commissioner said at a Women in Prison forum.

Commissioner Dr Helen Watchirs said she heard the men had been intoxicated and went wild, lighting a fire.

The riot forced guards at Canberra’s prison to use capsicum spray for the first time since the facility opened in 2008 to subdue a riot on 12 May.

READ MORE Fires lit during AMC riot forces guards to use gas

The incident started when several detainees failed to comply with orders from corrections officers and began behaving aggressively, a Justice and Community Safety (JACS) spokesperson said.

At least one officer’s station was burned before the riot ended and prisoners were relocated. One accommodation unit was also damaged.

Helen Watchirs

ACT Human Rights Commissioner Dr Helen Watchirs confirmed that prisoners were drunk during the 12 May riot. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

According to a prison guard from AMC, prisoners make homebrew alcohol by stockpiling their daily fruit rations, and there have been multiple occasions when prisoners have been drunk, including during this riot.

Region Media understands that several officers at the AMC were concerned about the stockpiling but had their concerns dismissed as paranoia, leading to further frustration from officers towards management at the prison.

READ MORE Poor discipline and violence inside AMC has guards at breaking point: whistleblower

Eight inmates started a violent brawl when drunk last October, during which an inmate’s leg was broken, according to the prison guard.

JACS did not explain how prisoners were able to access alcohol and drink to such an extent in the prison.

In a statement, the Directorate said ACT Corrective Services and the Inspector of Correctional Services are undertaking a review of the incident. The review would confirm the circumstances surrounding the incident.

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How about we look at evidence & find out which type of prison works & which doesn’t.
Do we want people leaving prison & going back to the community to be better people or worse people.

Capital Retro5:57 pm 04 Jun 21

The one we have with the revolving door works for the inmates but fails the community.

I know I am being wise after the event, but this decision to open a jail in the ACT has proven to be a disaster. I think we were a lot better off transporting prisoners and having New South Wales deal with them. Their prison system seems to be working well, and we didn’t have the problems with recidivism we have now and local corrective services staff being put into dangerous positions.

I know we can’t go back now, but I wonder what Jon Stanhope thinks about creating this mess in the first place and having his successors down the line being left holding the baby and having to deal with the consequences.

Capital Retro10:16 am 04 Jun 21

Correctional centre = good
Prison = bad.

Christine Cox: The prisoners have made the AMC disgusting not the other way around…

consumeradvocatecanberra3:13 pm 01 Jun 21

Like many things run by this government, the AMC is not well run at all. About time Mr Barr invested some of his stamp duty in a seconed jail, and listened to front line staff. Double sentences of detainees who foul up like this occasion. Even better, run it well. Bring in the Military Police to do it and it will not ever happen again.

The Black Dolphin prison in Russia is a good model to use.

Capital Retro6:00 pm 01 Jun 21

Sherriff Joe in Arizona?

The prison hooch is probably a better option than the intravenous drug use enabled by the ACT Government in there.

Why is the HRC involved? This is obviously a police issue.

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