Maryborough Correctional Centre.
Maryborough Correctional Centre. Valerie Horton

MP calls for prisoners to work more after riot

A VIOLENT riot broke out at Maryborough Correctional Centre after prisoners began to smash windows on Saturday afternoon.   

A fire was then lit at the jail, causing one prison guard to be overcome by smoke.   

The worker had to be taken to hospital for treatment.   

The Chronicle understands the fire was lit in a garbage bin which was then thrown through a window.

A Queensland Corrective Services spokeswoman said the protest began about 4.50pm, with a small number of prisoners breaking windows and being "non-compliant".  

The fire was quickly extinguished by the prison's deluge system and the prisoners were locked in the exercise yard.   During the riot, a medication tray was accessed by the prisoners.   

A number of inmates were subsequently transported to hospital after showing signs of smoke inhalation and/or drug ingestion.  

The day before the protest, prisoners had their schedules and work interrupted due to an organised event for government officials to acknowledge 15 years since the facility opened.   

On weekends, inmates don't partake in work as industry activities.

This is scheduled work for prisoners was reduced to occur five days a week, instead of every single day several years ago.   

Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders is calling for the return of industry activities for inmates seven days a week.   He says it will help cure boredom, one of the prominent causes of inmate mischief.   

"They should be working seven days a week, prisoners need structure," Mr Saunders said.  

"I will be demanding the minister and Queensland Corrections Services to move that way.  

"Being locked up all day with the Friday celebrations created a bit of a problem."  

Overcrowding also continues to be an issue here and across the state.   

As of Sunday, there are 633 inmates housed in the Maryborough jail which has an official capacity of 500.  

Michael Thomas, director of industrial relation sat the Together Union, which looks after rights of prisoner officers, there's good reason for it.  

"The overcrowding is an undercurrent that leads to everything," Mr Thomas said.  

"The reality is, we are seeing more and more incidents happen.   

"What happened in Maryborough, with the need for multiple ambulances to be called, should serve as a wake-up call.

"It's creating environments where the tension is rising and setting up for these sorts of incidents."   

Every prison in Queensland is overcrowded.  

Just like the Maryborough MP, Mr Thomas wants a seven-day-a-week industry program to resume.   

"If a prisoner doesn't get out of their cell the whole day, that's dangerous in itself," he said.  

"Despite all the concerns we've raised, it still hasn't been opened to the seven days."  

The Chronicle understands that earlier on Saturday at the Maryborough jail, an officer was subject to inappropriate remarks of sexual nature by prisoners.

However, it is not known whether the incident was linked to the riot.