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Police investigate Risdon Prison violence -

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ELEANOR HALL: To Hobart now where the Risdon Prison is still in lockdown as wardens attempt to
regain control after yesterday's violence.

The 11 prisoners who attacked two guards yesterday afternoon are now in a maximum security area of
the gaol but the Prison Service had to send in its tactical response unit as Felicity Ogilvie
reports from Hobart.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Details are emerging about exactly what happened at Hobart's Risdon Prison
yesterday afternoon.

David O'Byrne, from the Correctional Officers Association, says guards have told him the violence
started when two officers were attacked by prisoners.

DAVID O'BYRNE: The incident and it still is, is under investigation but we understand that
essentially this was an act of thuggery by a small group of inmates against a couple of custodial
officers.

So in relation to some of the media about a riot or a large scale incident, that did not take
place. Procedures were put in place to assume the worst, that something that could occur but the
incident itself was a pure act of thuggery by a small group of inmates against custodial officers.

FELICITY OGILVIE: You call it thuggery. What happened?

DAVID O'BYRNE: There was a physical altercation between custodial officers, well between inmates
when they set upon a couple of custodial officers who were going about their normal duties.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The two guards have been treated in hospital for cuts to their faces and
fractures.

Lawyer Greg Barns runs the Prison Action and Reform Group says this is what prisoners told him
about the incident.

GREG BARNS: There was an altercation between a couple of prisoners and, well, one or two prisoners
and a couple of guards, prison officers. That then escalated with other prisoners becoming involved
and tactical response group was on site within about an hour.

Inmates were returned to their cells and they missed out on their evening meal and were fed around
about midnight last night.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Risdon Prison has a long history of riots - the problem became so bad the
Government built a new prison in 2006.

But the Corrections Minister, Lisa Singh, says what happened at Risdon yesterday wasn't a riot.

LISA SINGH: I have to say to call this a riot is really overplaying it. This is a wonton attack by
a few thugs, a vicious attack and it will not be tolerated. No violence will be tolerated whether
it is on our streets or in prison.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The 11 prisoners who she says attacked the guards have been moved to maximum
security. The rest of the prisoners in the medium security area are still locked in their cells
waiting for the police to investigate the incident.

Greg Barns says it was sparked by boredom and frustration.

GREG BARNS: One of the favourite tactics of this prison, prison administration is to refuse people
family visits and education opportunities as a form of punishment. Some of those who are involved,
sorry, some of those in medium security would be the victims of that style of administration.

That then means particularly on weekends if they can't get to see their families, they get very
frustrated. It also means on weekends that you have got people being locked down from about 4.30 in
the afternoon until about 7.30 in the morning - that is in their cells for more hours of the day
than they are out of their cells.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Hobart's Mercury Newspaper has another theory. It is reporting that the violence
was sparked by inmates who are upset that sex offenders are present during family visits.

The Liberals Vanessa Goodwin, says prisoners have been angry about that situation for some time.

VANESSA GOODWIN: Certainly there has been mention of concerns about sex offenders being present
during visits with prisoners and their families and I know that issue has been raised with my
office. So there is some legitimacy to that concern.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Corrections Minister, Lisa Singh says she'll be investigating those claims.

LISA SINGH: We have child sex offenders and murderers and rapists and the like all there meeting
their respective family members. We don't discriminate on the basis of the criminal offence that
they are in there when they go to visit those family members.

But from the issues that have been raised today in media reports, I will be having discussions with
my deputy secretary on some of those concerns.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The prisoners will remain in their cells until the police have finished their
investigation.

ELEANOR HALL: Felicity Ogilvie reporting from Hobart.