Risdon inmates ‘tortured’

October 1

A group of maximum security inmates at Hobart’s Risdon prison will be released from their cells tomorrow for the first time since a riot in the section nine days ago.

The state industrial commission was today told the inmates have been in lockdown around the clock since six prison guards were attacked by a mob eight days ago.

The Correctional Officers union has agreed to return the unit to normal tomorrow.

But the spokesman for the Prison Action Reform group, lawyer Greg Barnes, says it is unacceptable that the prisoners have effectively been in solitary confinement for more than a week.

“There is never a choice to inflict torture on a person, it’s a slippery slope when you start saying security comes before liberty,” Mr Barnes said.

“We saw that at Abu Ghraib and it’s no exaggeration to say that we’re seeing something similar here in Tasmania.”

Mr Barnes has accused the unions of running the prison.

“It is in noone’s interests to torture people, it’s in noone’s interest to put people in solitary confinement for long periods, all that you do is to ensure mental and physical harm will result and that’s not in the community’s interests and it’s certainly not in the interests of those who are suffering under that regime.”

The Corrections Minister, Nick McKim, says he asked the Justice Department to list the matter in the commission after he became aware of the situation.

Mr McKim says he has asked the Department to provide a report by next Wednesday.

The matter is due to return to the commission on Tuesday morning.

The union has refused to comment.

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