Work starts on ‘mega-jail’ west of Brisbane as prison population overflows

Construction has started on a new mega-prison that will house 1000 men by 2024 in south-east Queensland.

The prison being built at Gatton, in the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane, was commissioned to tackle overcrowding crisis in the state’s prisons.

Stage two of the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre will be built next to the existing prison, near Gatton.Credit:Queensland Corrective Services

The Crime and Corruption Commission Taskforce Flaxton report into jail corruption found assaults had increased because prisons were overflowing.

The report found the state’s jails were at 125 per cent capacity and the rate of imprisonment was rising despite a drop in the crime rate.

Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Martin said the new prison was “unique in Australia” as it would include specialist drug and alcohol services, mental health and rehabilitation services to “set the prisoner population up for success”.

A productivity commission report found a drug crackdown was behind the state’s prison overcrowding crisis, contributing to 32 per cent of the growth.

The report was the 11th major review of Queensland’s criminal justice system in 10 years and was ordered to examine prison overcrowding.

The 516-page report, released last year, recommended MDMA and cannabis be removed from Queensland’s criminal code to reduce incarceration rates and save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, but was rejected by the Palaszczuk government.

Corrections Minister Mark Ryan said the specialised rehabilitation services at the prison would reduce reoffending rates.

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