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'Dongas' a 'disgrace'

The introduction of shipping containers to house Dhurringile Prison inmates has raised union concern.

DARREN LINTON December 20, 2013 5:29am

 

A union has raised fears of increased tension at Dhurringile Prison as inmates are moved into shipping containers by Christmas.

A Community and Public Sector Union spokesman yesterday described the containers as a ‘‘disgrace’’ and more like ‘‘self-storage’’ than accommodation.

The union representing prison guards is also concerned higher-risk prisoners will be housed in the space created in the main accommodation wings.

Union organiser Andrew Capp criticised the standard of the ‘‘dongas’’ previously used to house workers at remote mining sites.

‘‘They’re a disgrace and more akin to self-storage,’’ he said.

‘‘Being placed out in the open, they will become hot boxes over summer and the added hanging points make them a safety hazard and non-compliant.’’

Mr Capp said the units were not a nice place to bed down during Christmas and families should be complaining to the highest levels of the Victorian Government on behalf of their husbands, sons and brothers.

‘‘The government will move current C1 and C2 minimum security inmates into these dongas for Christmas and tensions will be high,’’ he said.

‘‘The government intends filling Dhurringile then with B-rated medium security prisoners, but will re-rate these more dangerous inmates down to C to fill this prison farm.’’

‘‘I don’t think the government has explained this aspect of their to the local community.’’

A spokesman for Victorian Corrections Minister Edward O’Donohue said some prisoners moved to Dhurringile would fit a new classification being introduced into the prison system of ‘‘restricted minimum’’. Permanent accommodation was planned or under construction at Dhurringile and Loddon prisons that would provide a higher level of segregation and security for prisoners deemed low-risk, but not minimum security.

The spokesman said in the interim, prisoners with that classification would be housed at Dhurringile’s existing facilities, but would wear GPS tracking devices to reflect their slightly higher risk status.

The spokesman said overcrowding was a source of tension for prisoners and the dongas would ease concerns.

The spokesman said the units would not be commissioned if they did not meet standards and hanging points were less of an issue in minimum security because ‘‘at risk’’ prisoners were not given that classification.

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