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Queensland Corrective Services restrictions update

Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) has provided Queensland Law Society with an update on the current state of Queensland corrections facilities.

As of Friday 4 September 2020 Brisbane, Wolston, Woodford and Borallon Training and Correctional Centre returned to Stage 3 restrictions following a period of time on Stage 4 restrictions.

Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre (AGCC), remains on Stage 4 restrictions.

Custodial staff from a number of centres in south-east Queensland were called upon to provide assistance at AGCC over the past two weeks due to the health requirements following positive COVID-19 tests amongst officers. QCS has advised that the AGCC is more settled now due to increased staffing levels within the centre and more timely access to services by prisoners.
Access to prisoners

QLS is aware that there have been some issues raised regarding disruption to access to prisoners by legal practitioners during this period.

QCS has advised that centres in south-east Queensland (excluding AGCC) have confirmed that the disruptions to videoconferencing and phone access to prisoners for legal representatives have either been resolved or will be at the start of next week. We understand that it may take a short period of time for any backlog to be resolved.

QLS understands that AGCC is continuing to experience some challenges and is in the process of moving some videoconferencing units in order to create greater efficiencies.

QCS has indicated that access to videoconferencing for court appearances has been prioritised. Any additional capacity in terms of both technology and staffing levels has been allocated to legal practitioners and other professionals and agencies requiring access to prisoners.

Urgent matters

QCS is aware that during recent times there have been some issues corresponding with prisoners at AGCC in written form for urgent matters. They have advised that these issues have been attributed to staffing levels and again, are expected to be largely resolved from next week.

Reminders have been provided to all Sentence Management Services staff in centres to provide assistance regarding the provision of urgent legal correspondence, with consideration being given to issues of confidentiality where this may preclude such assistance being provided.

For urgent or ongoing matters, QCS has updated its escalation contact lists.

Current centre restriction levels

Centre restriction levels remain as set out below.

Explanations of restrictions for each Stage are outlined in the Custodial Operations Hot Spot Response plan is on the Corrections webpage.

QCS has provided the following information about the key elements of each stage of restrictions:

Stage 4 restrictions

As of 27 August, as per advice from the Chief Health Officer (CHO), AGCC moved to Stage 4 restrictions. As a result, the following restrictions apply:

  • Suspension of all visits, including professional and legal visitors;
  • New reception prisoners are subject to 14-day isolation protocols. This applies to prisoners leaving the centre and returning, including for the purpose of attendance at court. However, advice from the CHO advice is that prisoners in Stage 4 centres should not attend court in person. Movements out of the centre are restricted to the greatest extent possible.
  • Only essential workers, including QCS Officers, Queensland Health staff, law enforcement and emergency services personnel will be permitted entry to these prisons, with other attendance requiring Commissioner approval.
  • Mandatory use of face masks for all staff in the centre, and for prisoners when they are out of their cells.
  • Non-essential prisoner movement throughout the centre suspended, including non-essential out of cell or unit time.

Stage 3 restrictions

As of 4 September, as per advice from the CHO, the following south-east Queensland prisons moved to Stage 3 restrictions.

  • Brisbane Correctional Centre
  • Borallon Correctional Centre
  • Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre
  • Southern Queensland Correctional Centre
  • Wolston Correctional Centre
  • Woodford Correctional Centre
  • Maryborough Correctional Centre
  • Numinbah Correctional Centre
  • Palen Creek Correctional Centre
  • Helana Jones Centre.

Under Stage 3, the following restrictions apply:

  • Suspension of all visits, including professional and legal visitors.
  • New reception prisoners are subject to 14-day isolation protocols. This also applies to prisoners leaving the centre and returning, including for the purpose of attendance at court.
  • Only essential workers including QCS Officers, Queensland Health staff, law enforcement and emergency services personnel will be permitted entry to these prisons, with other attendance requiring Commissioner approval.
  • Face masks are currently in use.

Stage 2 restrictions

Also, as of 4 September, as per advice from the CHO, the following prisons moved to Stage 2 restrictions:

  • Capricornia Correctional Centre (& low custody)
  • Lotus Glen Correctional Centre (& low custody)
  • Townsville Correctional Centre (& low custody)
  • Townsville Women’s Corrections Centre (& low custody)

Under Stage 2, the following restrictions apply;

  • Suspension of all personal visits (professional and legal visitors may still attend in person).
  • New reception prisoners are subject to 14-day isolation protocols. This will also apply to prisoners leaving the centre and returning, including for the purpose of attendance at court.

The QCS internet site has been updated to reflect this information.

If members have any concerns or wish to relay any feedback to QCS, please contact the QLS Legal Policy team by email to policy@qls.com.au.

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