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Australia: 'extraordinary overcrowding' at Alice Springs women's jail, investigation finds

A new investigation into living conditions at the Alice Springs Women’s Correctional Facility (ASWCF) has found overcrowding has led to “at-risk” women being transferred to the men’s prison.

The report by Northern Territory ombudsman Peter Shoyer described a state of “extraordinary” and “chronic” overcrowding.

Mr Shoyer said the issue was made worse by the fact the prison sat within the already overcrowded male prison and had led to “concerning” actions by corrections staff.

“One example which is particularly concerning is the practice of transferring and holding at-risk female prisoners in G Block, in the maximum security section of the men’s prison,” he said.

“In this case, the potential for contact with male prisoners remains a worrying prospect but is compounded by the isolation of a female prisoner with potential mental health issues being kept quite separately from other female prisoners who might be able to offer some support.”

The report also said a rise in prison numbers meant that for the past five years the jail’s library and education room had instead been used to house extra detainees.

The report said that “almost all” of the female prisoners who were interviewed said there were not enough beds for everyone.

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