ACT News

Canberra Liberals call for security review of jail

Opposition corrections spokesman Andrew Wall says the Alexander Maconochie Centre risks a "cultural legacy" if continued ...
Opposition corrections spokesman Andrew Wall says the Alexander Maconochie Centre risks a "cultural legacy" if continued breaches aren't stamped out. 

The Canberra Liberals have called for a review of security at Canberra's jail amid continued breaches by prisoners.

Opposition corrections spokesman Andrew Wall said the Alexander Maconochie Centre risked a "cultural legacy" if continued breaches weren't stamped out.

But Corrections Minister Shane Rattenbury said the government did not need a review to tell it that mobile phones are a problem in prisons.

The call comes after Fairfax Media revealed authorities had launched a probe into how a sentenced prisoner updated social media on life inside Canberra jail.

Prisoners have limited access to computers, and no access to social media, yet Daniel Ruspandini's profile was updated  over a 23-day period – sometimes twice in a day – at a time he was locked up on charges of violence.

And a court last week heard that Ruspandini allegedly sent emails to his ex-girlfriend that said he had a phone and provided her with a mobile number she could contact him on.

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Two of the social media posts, tendered during the sentence hearing, make reference to his appeal, with one including a picture of legal documents accompanied by a message: "2000 pages of law to study in one day .... I hate you law courts!"

Pictures of the posts also show Ruspandini had private messages waiting to be read.

The jail has had a number of other high profile security breaches involving prisoners' improper access to communication devices, including footage of a prison fight uploaded online, and allegations a drug ring was run by inmates using smuggled phones.

Mr Wall said the jail had been beset with issues since it first accepted prisoners in March 2009.

"When the jail was built, it was meant to be state-of-the-art and the best of its kind," Mr wall said.

"But it's constantly had problems, whether it be [the cost of operation], being overcapacity, violence within the jail, and now instances of contraband coming in almost freely.

"This is yet another example of where this government is continuing to fail in its operation of the ACT's jail."

Mr Wall said there were systematic issues with the management of the prison and something needed to be done.

He called for thorough review of security at the AMC to identify where the weaknesses are.

"Then we need to have some realistic investment in fixing this problem once and for all.

"Six years into the operation of any facility is always a good time to review it, you would imagine that the teething problems in setting up this facility should most definitely ironed out by now.

"Any issues that remain now risk becoming cultural legacy issues, and unless they are dealt with swiftly, they will remain forever and a day."

But Mr Rattenbury said he did not see a need for a full security review.

"The security review is not going to tell us anything we don't already know," he said.

"We simply need to be vigilant and use intelligence to work to identify those people who are smuggling in contraband.

"There's a range of substantial security efforts that go into this and we are cracking down on it in increased efforts with the federal police."