THE A.C.T. opposition has called for prisoners on work release to be searched when returning to the Alexander Maconochie Centre after a drunk inmate broke his leg when falling from a fence during a botched prison escape.
But ACT Corrections staff say the incident has been misconstrued.
A Freedom of Information document, obtained by the Canberra Liberals, revealed the prisoner, who attempted to escape a minimum security unit of the AMC in August last year, was intoxicated.
A subsequent search of the man's cell discovered a partially consumed bottle of alcohol, prescription drugs and two knives.
The documents show the injured minimum security prisoner, just months away from release, was discovered lying on a footpath outside the fence of the transitional release centre about midnight.
The man had allegedly obtained the alcohol while on work release.
Opposition Corrections spokesman Jeremy Hanson said that it was alarming that prisoners are not being searched upon their return to their cells.
''It's seriously concerning that prisoners are being able to get such items into their cells and is further evidence of ACT Labor's shocking management of the jail,'' Mr Hanson said.
But prison authorities said the incident was the first at the transition centre since it opened in late 2009. The transitional program aims to prepare detainees for reintegration into society.
During the staged release, prisoners are offered education programs, counselling and freedoms, such as work release.
A Corrective Services spokesman said the knives - taken from the communal kitchen - were used to open a cell window and then discarded, indicating they weren't intended for use as weapons.
He said the alcohol was successfully smuggled in because staff only conduct random checks when detainees return to the centre for the night. ''If you're trying to build up trust it can be counterproductive to search them on the way out and way in every day,'' the spokesman said. ''We're not trying to replicate the custodial environment, we're trying to support the detainee in a normal environment.
''We try to mitigate that risk as best we can but in order for a detainee to transition into the community there must be trust.
''There's always a risk but there's also a risk that if we don't try this approach and prisoners go from a secure environment that's very regimented and into the community to do what they like, then they'll re-offend.
While the centre was located outside the perimeter fence, it was within AMC grounds which was monitored by CCTV and patrolled by guards. ''The truth is the gate is open all day every day, he could've walked off at any time.''