Protect our kids – inmates
TENSIONS in the medium security section of Risdon Prison have been rising for some weeks.
Prisoners have several grievances, but are particularly unhappy about the presence of child-sex offenders during family visiting sessions.
In an unusual show of unity, more than 120 of the 190 prisoners in the medium security section signed a petition
calling on jail management to exclude child-sex offenders from visiting times when children are present -- the practise in many prisons interstate.
But the prison service has refused to budge on the issue.
Inmates claim that child-sex offenders have taken the opportunity during prison visits to ogle children, and warn there is a risk violence could result.
Protest spokesman Nathan Colman, who is serving a two-year minimum sentence for assault, said in a letter that
prisoners were concerned for the safety of their children.
It is not known whether Colman is among the prisoners involved in yesterday's incident.
"We feel it is appalling that child-sex offenders are permitted anywhere near our children," he wrote.
"We are hoping that seeking assistance through the correct forums that this could be changed."
In the letter to senior prison management, inmates say the risks of an incident is high.
"There have been a number of incidents where a child-sex offender has tried to initiate contact with children during
a visit session, or caught ogling other visitors' children," the letter says.
"For parents, family and friends, both inmate and civilian, this is an emotionally disturbing experience.
"Fortunately to date there have been no acts of violence, and we hope there will be none in future."
The letter proposes that child-sex offenders be allocated visit times when children are not present and that adult-only
visit sessions be scheduled.
But director of Corrective Services Robert Williams said current policy would not be changed.
He said visits at the prison were conducted in a highly monitored and supervised state-of-the-art visits centre.
"Not only are there a number of CC-TV cameras in the visits area, but also three uniformed officers are rostered to that
venue when visits are occurring," he said.
"Visits have always occurred at all prison facilities between persons who have been convicted of a variety of offences
and their family and friends, over many years without incident.
"The Tasmania Prison Service has had no direct evidence given to it to conduct any investigation or refer any matter to
Tasmania Police in relation to visits at prison facilities.
"And at this time, it does not propose any changes to the visits process."