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Gang-run fight clubs in private prison where inmates were encouraged to ‘fight to the death’

10 July 2017 3:33 AM
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Gang-run fight clubs in private prison where inmates were encouraged to ‘fight to the death’

An “appalled” prisons commissioner is sending in an elite team to take over the privately-run Parklea Correctional Centre if necessary in the wake of the Youtube security scandal.

Commissioner Peter Severin said this was the first time this action had been taken at any jail in NSW.

A governor from the public section will lead the team and have the power to veto decisions.

He said that when he met with bosses of the GEO Group, which runs the jail, this morning they were very apologetic.

He revealed that the video made on a mobile phone was probably recorded in August last year when the two inmates were in the same maximum security cell.

One has since been parolled but the other, who is now in a different jail, also had his new cell searched over the weekend after the video was uploaded to Youtube.

“I have just met with GEO and told them I am sending in a public sector governor to lead a review of the centre.

“The governor will lead a team that will oversee all major decisions made by GEO management and also review practices there.”

He said he was appalled when the video was brought to his attention late on Friday.

WEEKLY prison fight clubs and self-filmed vision of a prisoner showing off a knife and ice were proof private-run prisons were ‘breeding crime,’ a union claimed today.

The prison service went into meltdown today after the shocking footage emerged - with prisons boss Peter Severin ordering crisis talks to try and work out how the maximum security prisoner managed to get hold of such deadly weapons inside Parklea jail.

To make matters worse, it is believed Corrective Services Minister David Elliott is away on holiday, leaving the government floundering as it tries to grapple with the scandal.

Private prison operators have a history of security problems around the world including in New Zealand where prisoners held weekly fight clubs.

Serco, which is part of the consortium which has won the bid to run the new prison to be built outside Grafton, lost its contract to run a Mt Eden jail in Auckland after footage emerged of the gang-run clubs which encouraged some people to fight to the death.

As well as the weekend’s debacle where a maximum security inmate at Parklea Correctional Centre filmed himself with drugs and weapons on a mobile phone inside his cell, it shows that private companies should not be running the state’s jails, Public Service Association general secretary Stewart Little said today.

“The only way we find out about these issues is by inmates filming themselves - what sort of system is that?” Mr Little said.

“These poorly managed, under resourced prisons are just incubators for worse problems that are later unleashed back into society.

He said that successful correctional facilities in Nowra, Cessnock, Kempsey and Wellington proved that if governments invested the money, they will get results.

Serco is one of the companies behind the Northern Pathways Consortium, which has been chosen by the Berejikilan Government to run a new privately operated Grafton prison.

Serco tried to block the release of the official report into the Mt Eden fiasco but was overruled by the New Zealand High Court.

Sydney’s Parklea jail is run by another private operator, GEO Group, which has still not commented.

The company is so secretive it will not reveal who its media spokesperson is but said they would “call back”.

We welcome the support of the Commissioner and Corrective Services NSW as we review our operations to ensure that the centre operates safely and securely.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley is demanding a massive increase in prison guards, accusing the state government of allowing our prisons to become “awash with dangerous weapons, hard drugs and mobile phones”.

“This morning we see confirmation of that – prisoners are now flaunting it, making home movies, making their own YouTube clips showing off their weaponary and their stash of drugs,” he added.

“What’s the response of the government? No-one’s available to talk. The prisons minister is away, who’s the acting prisons minister? Where’s the premier?”


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