State’s lock-ups to get email access

PRISONERS will be handed a new electronic messaging perk under Palaszczuk Government plans to cut the tsunami of contraband entering the state's jails.

Tender documents obtained by The Courier-Mail reveal Queensland Corrective Services hopes the new messaging service will also help inmates maintain relationships with family and friends while behind bars.

It comes as new figures show the department is losing the fight to keep prohibited items out of the state's 11 high security and six low security prisons with the amount of contraband increasing be almost two-thirds in just four years.

"In order to enhance the ability of prisoners to maintain and foster relationships with family and friends while in containment, QCS wishes to implement a cost-effective electronic messaging system as an alternative to standard postal service form of communication," the documents state.


A cell at Woodford Correctional Centre, the state’s worst for contraband, with more than 1100 items confiscated last year. Picture: Chris McCormack
A cell at Woodford Correctional Centre, the state’s worst for contraband, with more than 1100 items confiscated last year. Picture: Chris McCormack


The "Request for Proposal" documentation said the department wanted a web-based solution that was also capable of providing a way for people to transfer money into prisoner accounts.

Providing prisoners with a system of email to discourage the use of postal services is in line with a recommendation from the Crime and Corruption Commission's scathing Taskforce Flaxton report which found Queensland's jails were a hotbed for potential corruption.

"Despite the use of detection methodologies, contraband remains an issue in Queensland prisons," the report said.

"Decreasing the volume of mail entering prisons via the postal service may decrease the amount of contraband entering prisons."

New figures have revealed the amount of contraband items detected on prisoners and visitors at Queensland jails has skyrocketed by 93 per cent since 2015-16.

In 2018-19, more than 4400 contraband items were seized by prison officers in or at the entry points to the state's jails - the equivalent of about 12 items every day. The worst jail was the Woodford Correctional Centre, with over 1,100 items seized in 2018-19, followed by Arthur Gorrie and the Borallon Training and Correction Centre.

Contraband items can include weapons, dangerous drugs, lighters, USB sticks and mobile phones.

A spokesman for Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan said the plan for inmate email service would be further considered once the department had resume control of the state's private prisons.

"It's been decided that a whole of Corrective Services approach across all prisons would deliver a more efficient and practical outcome," he said.

"Any system that was to be introduced would still be closely monitored by Corrective Services officers and any communications prisoners have with people outside of the prison would be strictly controlled."