The prison officers union has warned overcrowding in WA's main women's jail has reached breaking point, with dozens of prisoners sleeping on the floor.
WA Prison Officers Union secretary John Welch said the prison muster at Bandyup Women's Prison reached a record high at the weekend, with prisoner numbers peaking at 300.
Overcrowding had become so severe that almost 50 women had to sleep on mattresses on the floor.
"It's a pretty shocking state of affairs, particularly in a State that's as rich and as awash with mining royalties as WA is, that we can't properly managing our prison population," Mr Welch said.
"This is an intolerable situation. When you overcrowd prisons, you increase the risk of assaults, both prisoner-on-prisoner and prisoner-on-staff and we don't want to see one of our members being the consequence of a failure to properly invest in female prisons."
Newly appointed Corrective Services Minister Murray Cowper confirmed yesterday 46 women were sleeping on mattresses on the floor at Bandyup.
"Female prisoner numbers are increasing, which is a challenge the Department of Corrective Services manages well," Mr Cowper said.
He said an extra 70 beds would be available for female prisoners by October, after a refurbishment at Greenough Regional prison and the opening of the West Kimberley Regional Prison.
"The department maps out longer term plans for further expansion through the Female Prisoners Strategic Plan and I will be looking into the issues involved," Mr Cowper said.
The 300 prisoners at Bandyup Women's Prison is almost double the jail's design capacity of 183 inmates and well above its operational capacity of 260, which includes temporary bunks or beds. Shadow corrective services minister Fran Logan said overcrowding meant several prisoners were often crammed into cells designed for one person.
"This is a disgraceful situation and we cannot keep people in such inhumane and overcrowded conditions," he said.Mr Welch said the Government's proposals to fix overcrowding in the prison system were "woefully inadequate".
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.