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Claims human rights put before security at AMC

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Noel Towell

One of the education rooms at the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

One of the education rooms at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Rohan Thomson

ACT prison authorities are putting the human rights of prisoners before security, according to a former commander of the jail.

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The Alexander Maconochie Centre.

The Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Former Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) superintendent Doug Buchanan says that jailers are put under “enormous pressure” to focus on the human rights of prisoners, compromising security at the jail.

Mr Buchanan, left his job in controversial circumstances in 2011 after being accused of using excessive force against a prisoner, but police found insufficient evidence to mount a case against the veteran NSW prison officer.

In the wake of revelations by The Canberra Times on Friday that convicted paedophiles at the jail are accused of forming a child pornography ring under the noses of guards, Mr Buchanan said such security breaches were inevitable under the jail’s human rights regime.

“It happens in the ACT because you have enormous pressure from the departmental (of Justice and Community Safety) on the superintendent to focus on human rights and nothing else,” Mr Buchanan said.

“When that happens, the basic security components of a correctional centre are not given the priorities that they are in every other correctional jurisdiction in the nation.”

Mr Buchanan, who is now retired, said human rights needed to be balanced against the need to keep a jail secure.

“The whole human rights agenda in the ACT needs to be put in balance with other priorities,” he said.

“In a correction centre, there has to be a balance between human rights and the security of the correction centre.

“At what point do you maintain security without being accused of breaching human rights?

“That’s the big issue.”

A police investigation is currently underway into how three prisoners, including two of Canberra’s most dangerous child sex predators, were allegedly able to obtain and share files containing the child pornography while serving their sentences at the AMC.

 

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