11 March – Teargas was used to quell a fresh wave of violence that erupted yesterday in the state’s prisons, including a deliberate ambush of guards after two cells were set on fire.
The chaos occurred as the Baird government revealed it is considering new measures to ease prison overcrowding crisis including reopening the 580-bed Parramatta jail, which was shut in 2011.
“The government is considering a number of options to respond to the growth of the prison population,” Prisons Minister David Elliott said.
Public Service Union prisons boss Steve McMahon welcomed the idea: “Reopening Parramatta would bring some much-needed bed space and take pressure off other jails.”
The latest violence erupted at Wellington Correctional Centre yesterday afternoon as fires were set inside two cells. Guards who responded to fire alarms were assaulted by four prisoners who “came out swinging” as the doors opened.
The prisoners involved in the violence are said to be part of a Pacific Islander gang called the Outkasts, who have known links to bikies.
“The guards suffered some cuts and bruises but I’m told one of the guards gave as good as he got,” one source said.
Teargas was used to quell the violence, amid fears the four inmates may try to release other prisoners from cells.
“There was a further disturbance when staff were moving inmates due to smoke,” a Corrections spokesman said.
“Some staff and inmates were treated at the scene by Justice Health.’’
The violence at Wellington Correctional Centre is said to have involved a group of inmates moved to the jail after violence at Goulburn prison. Guards used tear gas and live bullets, ‘as a warning’, to stop a brawl at Goulburn on January 26.
The state’s prison population rocketed above capacity to about 12,300 inmates last year, causing major backlogs in courts and police stations.