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A story on the nightly news so briefly fluffed over you could easily have missed it, except that it was quite funny and well worth a few more minutes air time.
The Newman governments ‘bikie-only’ prison unit has been opened to other prisons, why, exactly is this? Well, currently, the secure and expansive grounds is home to just one outlaw motorcycle club gang member. Awkward pause.
A spokeswoman for Queensland Corrective Services confirmed members of the general prison population were “sometimes held in the unit when it is not near its capacity”. This certainly sounds like it would be an option when just one ‘bikie’ in a pink jumpsuit cuts a lone figure in the 52-bed ‘restrictive management unit’ at the Woodford Correctional Centre’s maximum security facility (recommissioned as the governments “bikie superjail”) in late 2013.
The laws are yet to be fully tested in court, however since October last year police have charged 654 ‘bikie gang members’ and associates with 1458 offences and issued 207 traffic infringement notices. How many of these persons were legitimate outlaw motorcycle club members is not stated in the statistics released earlier this year.
With the Supreme Court approving bail applications for those charged under the VLAD legislation, the numbers within the prison have dropped considerably.
This legislation goes as far as locking individuals in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day without access to a television, phone, gym equipment or even a window with a view as well as being forced to wear a pink jumpsuit “to help with finding them should they escape”, before they are even ascertained to be involved in criminal activity.
When announcing the unit, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said it was a necessary measure to stop gang members from attempting to recruit new members and “continue criminal activities including the distribution of drugs and intimidation of prison staff”.
Further to that, when recommissioning the unit in October last year, Premier Campbell Newman said it not only “gives us the capacity to house these violent criminals, but ensure their activities are closely monitored and controlled 24 hours a day”.
When bikie gang members began resigning their memberships following the government’s anti-association legislation being passed last year, the government said it may not be enough – members would need to prove they had cut all ties and associations.
It is not known how inmates have proven they are no longer club members.