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Proposed 4000 bed prison called unsafe and unnecessary

The Queensland INCorrections Network, a statewide coalition of church, legal and social justice organizations, has called a proposed 4000 bed prison in Gatton unsafe and unnecessary.

Minister Judy Spence stated last week that she will be announcing the government’s preferred site for hosting the prison very shortly and then engaging in community consultation.

Coordinator of the INCorrections Network Matilda Alexander said the government’s consultation process is a farce.

“If they want to have meaningful community consultation they should engage the public prior to announcing their chosen site.

“Telling the community after the potential sites have been narrowed down to a single option is guaranteed to be no more than a PR exercise to sell their bogus economic argument and peddle out promises which are destined to be broken.”

The State INCorrections Network has called on Peter Beattie and Judy Spence to engage in public debate around the controversial and ineffective policy of ever increasing incarceration rates in the face of what the INCorrections Network calls the “abject failure to produce effective results, resulting in the need for such new mega-prisons.”

“Every dollar spent on prisons is one less dollar spent on health, education and housing,” said Ms Alexander.

“Ever increasing incarceration rates demonstrate the pursuit of poor social policy and a failure to address the issues facing Queenslanders.

“Instead, we advocate for a search for innovative solutions to stop the causes of crime and therefore stop the warehousing of the most disadvantaged members of our society in ineffective and expensive institutions.”

The biggest prison currently in Australia is located in Sydney and held 871 prisoners at the time of the 2005 census.

The INCorrections Network estimates that, based on current release statistics, at least 6750 prisoners will be released directly into the community that hosts the new mega- prison each year.

“This would mean that the town that hosts the prison would become Australia’s biggest ‘prison town.’,” Ms Alexander said.

“We call on Peter Beattie and Judy Spence to abandon the foolhardy plan to create Australia’s biggest prison town in Gatton or anywhere else.”