Super jail for bikie gangs draws flak

The Queensland Government's plan to lock up criminal bikies in a super jail could lead to more crime, critics warn.

Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman says there's no evidence to back the Government's claim that bikies are using jail time to recruit members, peddle drugs and intimidate prison staff.

The Government made the claims in justifying its plan for a bikies-only prison north of Brisbane, where inmates will be subjected to unprecedented monitoring.

Inmates will also be locked in their cells for up to 23 hours a day.

They will face increased drug testing and frequent cell searches. Calls to anyone but lawyers will be monitored, and mail will be opened and censored.

Inmates will be banned from having TVs and using gym equipment while family visits will be severely restricted.

Newly sentenced bikies will do their time at the facility, at the Woodford Correctional Centre, alongside others who will be transferred there from other jails.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie says bikies have in the past used their jail time to continue their criminal activities, including drug distribution.

But there will be safeguards to prevent that happening at the new facility.

Critics say it is essentially solitary confinement and inmates will develop mental health problems that will make them more dangerous when they are eventually released.

A criminologist and former cop says the new Queensland laws will force bikies into a life on the run.

Former Gold Coast detective Dr Terry Goldsworthy says the proposed laws are unfair and set a dangerous new precedent for double standards in Queensland.

He says there's now one set of rules to deal with bikies who commit crimes, and another for non-gang members who commit exactly the same offences.

Under proposed laws unveiled yesterday, bikie gang members who commit serious crimes face 15 years of extra jail time.

For gang office bearers, the penalties are harsher still: an extra 25 years on top of whatever they get for their original offences.

Other changes include a presumption against bail for criminal bikie gang members.

Goldsworthy says the changes, particularly around bail, will make it harder for police to nab bikies.

"If a bikie thinks they won't be getting bail, then they won't be surrendering to police," Goldsworthy said.

"They will be saying, 'you can come and catch us, because once you catch us we won't be able to get out'."

O'Gorman says the Government's claims about what bikies are doing in jail are not backed by evidence.

If bikies were committing crimes from behind bars, he says it would make no sense to lump them all together in the same place.

"Concentrating them in one area is bound to magnify the problem, if there is indeed a problem," O'Gorman said.

O'Gorman says the plan to confine bikies to their cells is the only real difference between a bikies-only jail and existing maximum-security prisons.

He warns such long periods of isolation will do great harm.

"If you cage people like animals, then they behave like caged animals when they are released," he said.

O'Gorman noted there was no reference to bikie crime inside Queensland jails in the recent Corrective Services annual report.


Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 27 May 2016 03:20:34 Processing Time: 541ms