Tensions run high after guards are injured in riots at Casuarina prison
Tensions remain high in the juvenile section of a West Australian prison after six guards were reportedly injured in a riot and inmates broke from their cells.
Juvenile Wardens at Casuarina Prison are feeling unsafe following Saturday’s incident, when a prison guard’s keys were allegedly stolen and she was beaten with a makeshift weapon.
“There are concerns about escalation targeting (officials) to access their keys,” Melanie Bray, deputy secretary of the Municipality and Public Sector Union, told reporters Monday.
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“It’s very, very, very unusual… It’s a significant problem.”
Bray, who was speaking outside the maximum security prison after meeting with guards involved in the “big disruption”, said the youth wing had been torn apart.
“There’s nothing pretty about this unity … It’s not like it’s sort of returned to a harmonious normality,” she said.
“They haven’t returned to everyone’s doldrums and everyone is calm, it’s still an escalated environment.”
She said some of the officers involved in the incident had regularly faced violent teenage inmates.
“This could be her third or fourth traumatic incident in the past two weeks,” she said.
“It’s not something that happened for our membership on Saturday, it’s something that’s still happening.
“This is not a work environment that anyone wants to be in.”
Inmates armed with weapons
Bray said a police officer who was attacked with a metal object was hit with either a pole or a plate and she was discharged from hospital.
“As I understand it, there is a vulnerability at the facility where someone might be able to weaponize some of the infrastructure,” she said.
Two inmates allegedly stole the keys to the prison’s quarters around 4pm and freed 11 others from their cells before climbing onto the roof and damaging property.
A total of six guards were injured during the riots, debris was thrown at staff and three buildings were damaged and one flooded before the incident ended around 2.15am on Sunday.
The WA government has been heavily criticized for detaining juveniles in Banksia Hill Juvenile Prison despite ongoing riots at Banksia Hill Juvenile Prison.
Premier Mark McGowan said on Sunday the unrest during the monitored recovery period was appalling and shocking and those involved would be charged.
Bray said staff had also previously raised concerns about juvenile detention at Casuarina, which is primarily a prison for grown men.
She also said Casuarina’s youth wing was not fully staffed on Saturday and urged the government to listen to officials.
“If they come to the table and say, ‘We think we have some solutions, and you need to listen to us,’ at least listen,” she said.
The Justice Reform Initiative said the incident showed the danger of a judicial policy that relies on incarceration and fails to address the root cause.
“Everyone deserves to be safe at work, but we need to take a close look at what is happening here for incarcerated children,” said executive director Mindy Sotiri.
“This unacceptable behavior is not emerging from a vacuum. We need to understand the context in which it occurs.”
Sotiri said that keeping children, who often have disabilities, under sentence conditions in prison makes them more likely to reoffend once they are released.
“Prison is failing these children, it is failing the people who are being paid to look after them and it is failing all Western Australians,” she said.