Last updated 1 November 2016     This chapter is currently under review.

Once arrested, a person is held in police custody at a police watch-house for a short time before being transferred to prison. Usually a person is not held in the watch-house for more than 21 days.

Admission

Prisoners are allowed to make one telephone call at Queensland Corrective Service’s (QCS) expense on being admitted to prison.

Many procedures are required on entry to prison (a full list can be obtained from QCS).

Within two days of being admitted to prison, an induction program will commence, which should provide all relevant information about the prison system and also about the particular prison at which they are located. Information should be made available to non-English speaking people in their own language, and provisions should be made for people with physical or intellectual disabilities to have access to alternative formats if required.

At the induction program, the person is provided with a prisoner information booklet and with information about all the rules that the person is required to comply with (i.e. mail, visits, phone calls, access to legal and health services, educational facilities and the sentence management process).

Assessment

When a person arrives in prison a number of assessments are undertaken to ensure that information supporting planning is gathered, analysed and interpreted at appropriate points throughout the period of incarceration. More information regarding assessment tools and outcomes are available from QCS.

Prison placement

Factors for prison placement include:

  • sentenced or remand
  • geographic location
  • security classification
  • gender; transgender people may be sent to either a men’s or a women’s prison, depending on their particular circumstances, with consideration being given to factors such as whether hormone treatment or surgery has been undertaken, medical opinions and how long it has been since the person’s transition. There is a procedure that governs access to treatment and placement called the ‘transgender offenders’
  • rehabilitation programs
  • whether protection or special care is needed.

A list of Queensland prisons and their locations is available from the Queensland government.

Family connections

When placing a prisoner, consideration should also be given by QCS to maintaining the person’s family and community ties. There is a particular obligation in this respect in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. According to Recommendation 168  of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which has been incorporated into the Corrective Services Regulation 2006 (Qld), Aboriginal people should be placed in a prison as close as possible to the place of residence of their family.

Protection

Some people are separated for protection purposes if they are at risk of being harmed by others. This happens for a range of reasons, including the nature of the offence, past occupation, involvement in a prison dispute or as crown witness.

A person can request to be placed on protection at any time. Queensland Corrective Services owes a duty of care to all prisoners in its custody and must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who fears physical harm from other prisoners is protected from that harm. This usually means placement in a protection unit, placement on a management plan or a safety order.

Rehabilitation programs

People who have been assessed as needing rehabilitation for the crimes may be referred to a criminogenic program. Currently, programs include a range of treatment methods such as relapse prevention planning, problem solving, safety planning, mood management techniques and cognitive behaviour methods. Some programs are tailored to meet the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or adapted for people with an intellectual impairment.

Programs are only run in particular prisons, and people will sometimes face a choice between remaining close to family and support, or being transferred in order to undertake a particular program.

If a person has been assessed as needing to complete a specific program and has not completed the program, this is not enough reason to deny parole. If the program has not been completed because the prisoner is still on the waiting list, this should be considered. More information on rehabilitation programs is available from QCS.

Residential accommodation

Most high security prisons have a residential section within the secure perimeter. People in high security, who have demonstrated stable behaviour in the traditional prison cell arrangement, may be offered a place in the residential section. People in the residential section live in communal housing blocks and may prepare their own meals and manage other aspects of their own living arrangements.