ACT News

Canberra jail not obliged to find prisoners work

A judge has thrown out a violent offender's bid to be given a job in Canberra jail.

Master David Mossop on Friday found jail authorities were not legally obliged to find work for inmates and had not breached the Human Rights Act as a result.

"The fact that other prisoners have, either in the past or presently, been offered employment while they have been accommodated in the management unit does not demonstrate either that there is some form of improper discrimination against the plaintiff or, more relevantly, that he is not being treated with humanity and respect for his inherent human dignity," Master Mossop said.

Isa Islam's frustration at being unemployed after a year on an Alexander Maconochie Centre waiting list led him to launch legal action in the ACT Supreme Court to force Corrective Services to find him work.

Islam argued the extended delay meant jail authorities had breached the Human Rights Act and prison policies.

Islam holds four tertiary qualifications, including masters in teaching and business administration, and has been accepted to complete a doctorate in Islamic studies.


He said he would be happy for a job sweeping or cleaning, but would prefer a job teaching other prisoners.

Islam is serving a nine-year sentence for a 2009 stabbing attack that left a man partially paralysed and reliant on a wheelchair.

He is due to be sentenced in March for a violent jailhouse assault that put another prisoner in hospital.

He is currently housed in the jail's management unit, which accommodates inmates who need to be segregated from the mainstream prison population.

Management unit inmates have limited access to privileges, including employment and education.

Master Mossop, in a judgment published on Friday, dismissed Islam's case, finding the prisoner had not proven a Human Rights breach.

"In relation to the position of the plaintiff, the evidence discloses that there are no jobs presently available in the management unit where the plaintiff is accommodated," Master Mossop wrote.

"Given the significant number of detainees in the AMC, the overall management of prisoner employment involves a complex set of considerations and must be considered in the light of the many other demands on the staff and resources of the AMC necessary to keep it running effectively."

"I am not satisfied that the circumstances of the plaintiff's detention involve any breach of [the Human Rights Act]."

Master Mossop also dismissed Islam's claim for compensation for loss of earnings.

"I am not satisfied that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care which required it to prevent the plaintiff suffering economic loss through not being employment while at the management unit," he wrote.