Two deaths in private prison in 3 days requires immediate action


The death of a woman in Junee prison announced today means two inmates lost their lives in Junee's private prison in just a 3 day period at the end of January. This is a prison in ongoing lockdown due to COVID that is now becoming a human rights disaster.

On 26th January a 47 year old man died in his cell after he had tested positive to COVID. Today the private operator GEO confirmed that a 48 year old woman died at the prison on 29 January.

Families and the community are deeply concerned about this private facility, and it's time for the Inspector of Custodial Services to commence an immediate investigation and for the Minister to step in and take action to bring the prison back into public management.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: "Two deaths in three days is a deeply troubling pattern, and an urgent investigation with public reporting is immediately needed.

"Another closed door investigation by the private operator and Corrective Services just won't get the answers that are so clearly needed.

"There are real questions about the ongoing safety of Junee and Parklea prisons and the impact of private operators seeking to maximize profits regardless of the human cost.

"The NSW Government needs to immediately take back the management of this private prison. It's clear it is not safe.

"My office has been inundated with requests from families for information about what's happening with their loved ones at Junee because they're hearing nothing from the prison operator.

"Families and inmates have been denied essential information about what's happening which is creating a climate of fear and distress. Meanwhile inmates are having court dates canceled because the prison is in lockdown.

"The failure of either the Minister or the private operator to even announce these two deaths is just another part of this policy of silence about the unfolding crisis in prisons and it must end," Mr Shoebridge said.

Prisoner advocate Renee McNab said: "As a prison advocate for families I see every day the stress and anxiety of having a loved one in custody, but with the situation at Junee Correctional Centre the extra anxiety this is causing to family members and prisoners is unacceptable.

"Something needs to be done, people should be safe in jail and get adequate care not be coming out deceased", Ms McNab said.