Inmates at Yatala labor prison revolt over understaffing
Sinks and sheet metal have been ripped from the walls of South Australia’s most secure prison after inmates rioted against an enforced prison lockdown.
A wild riot has broken out at South Australia’s most secure prison after Covid-19-related staffing shortages forced the facility into lockdown.
Violent weekend protests in a wing of Yatala Labor Prison in Northfield were sparked by frustrated inmates on Saturday when they were locked in – or confined to their cells – for lunch.
According to 9 News, sinks were ripped from walls and sheet metal was torn from cells in Adelaide prison.
Footage from the prison showed hallways covered in trash and debris.
Although no one was injured in the incident, it prompted calls from the prison guards’ union for a review.
Natasha Brown of the Public Service Association largely blamed the systemic staffing shortage on the previous government’s benchmarking policy.
She said it cut costs across the prison system by running them with minimal staff.
“There is no capacity for sick leave or any other type of absence until prisons get to a point where they are so understaffed that they have to be detained,” he said. she said on 5AA radio on Wednesday.
“We are seeing this happening more and more frequently and what is concerning is that… prisons are dangerous places at the best of times and short-staffed prisons are extremely dangerous environments for our workers but also for prisoners.
“With these lockdowns and understaffing happening so frequently and regularly, it’s only a matter of time before something much more serious happens and that’s a major concern.”
A Department of Corrections spokesperson confirmed that some prisoners caused damage to their cells in the wing on Saturday and said their behavior was “dealt with appropriately” by staff.
“The prisoners involved have been separated. There was no threat to the good order and security of the prison,” they said in a statement.
“The prison has been closed due to a high number of staff in isolation due to Covid-19.”
Corrections spokesman Tim Whetstone said an immediate review of the dangerous incident was needed and should be released to avoid a repeat incident.
He said the pandemic should not be used as an excuse to endanger workers’ lives.
“It is shocking to hear the PSA say closures are becoming more common because understaffing in South Australian prisons is not being addressed,” Mr Whetstone said.
“Labour Corrections Minister Joe Szakacs must act immediately and commit to increased resources in our prisons to keep guards and inmates safe at all times.
“If violence like this continues, it is only a matter of time before a guard or prisoner is seriously injured or killed.
“Raise the numbers and protect everyone. It’s so easy.”