Six prison officers in New South Wales could face criminal charges after being found to have engaged in serious abuse towards inmates.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) found the six staff members from Lithgow Correctional Centre allegedly participated in corruptive conduct and excessive force on inmates in 2014. In the damning findings, an inmate was admitted to hospital after he sustained face, neck and rib injuries from the jail guards.
ICAC has asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider a number of charges against the six employees, including:
- misconduct in public office,
- perverting the course of justice,
- assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH), and
- hindering an investigation.
These are failures which will continue to exist if we remain silent.
What is cell therapy?
‘Cell therapy’ or ‘ramping’ involves officers taking action against inmates, including:
- yelling abuse,
- trashing an inmate’s cell,
- or applying unnecessary physical force to an inmate.
In the ICAC report, it is alleged one prisoner was “flogged” when an officer from the squad entered his cell and almost immediately started punching him in the face. The officer had allegedly said to “stop resisting”. The inmate denied he was resisting.
After being punched a number of times in the face, other officers entered and attacked the inmate. At some stage, an officer kneed him in the ribs. The inmate is an asthmatic and requires both preventative medication by inhaler once daily and an inhaler to treat asthma attacks as they occur. Disturbing acts like these from prison guards highlight the corruption and wickedness that slips into our justice system.
After the ICAC Report
The Investigation Into The Conduct of NSW Corrective Services Officers at Lithgow Correctional Centre found that jail guards possibly planted drugs in a prisoner’s cell to have an excuse to search it. The guards then cover this incident by preparing false reports and destroying CCTV footage.
The ICAC investigation also identified poor practices guards at Lithgow jail, including:
- image recording
- and dealing with complaints.
Commissioner Stephen Rushton SC made 19 corruption prevention recommendations to Corrective Services NSW to improve its operations.