January 19: At around 4pm around 30 prisoners in Fulham Prison, near Sale in Gippsland, refused to return to their cells. Up to a dozen ran at fencing and tried to scale it as tensions spilled over on several fronts. Inmates, armed with gym equipment and gardening tools, began destroying property and starting fires.
Eleven people took to the roof. Police used capsicum spray and turned on rooftop sprinklers in an attempt to get people down, but six remained at midnight, with the rest of the prison on lockdown. They were forced down at around 3am when authorities used tear gas against them. The 11 men, aged 19-23, have been transferred to Port Phillip and Barwon prisons and could face charges as police continue to investigate the riot.
Just after 5.30pm, about a dozen other prisoners were spotted by authorities scaling the southeast corner fence.
According to reports, the rioters ripped out electrical wiring in a control room and threw projectiles and performed “doughnuts” in a prison maintenance vehicle.
Corrections Commissioner Robert Hastings identified the causes of discontent as the introduction of new flexible toothbrushes (said to be a security measure), plans to cancel pay TV due to cutbacks, and a stricter dress code for prisoners.
Corporate media reports claim that prison intelligence indicated that the riot may have been planned for days and that inmates had planned a protest march through the prison forecourt in the morning.
Fulham Prison is privately run by GEO group, which is paid per prisoner. It was built to accommodate 650 prisoners but has about 800. There was a fatal bashing at the jail last April while three prisoners were assaulted and stabbed recently.