Qld's prison system needs overhaul: Kilroy

Shae McDonald

An inmate-turned-prison advocate has again called for an overhaul of Queensland's corrective services system, saying it breeds corruption.

Sisters Inside chief executive Debbie Kilroy on Wednesday told the Crime and Corruption Commission's public hearing into the sector that an independent chief inspectorate for prisons was needed.

"When the system is so closed down and monitors itself, investigates itself, there is always a risk of corruption in any area," she said.

The CCC's Taskforce Flaxton is investigating corruption and corruption risks in the state's corrective services facilities.

Ms Kilroy, who was incarcerated in Brisbane's notorious Boggo Road jail before she became an advocate and lawyer, said most female prisoners feared the existing structure because of the repercussions of making a complaint.

"There are a number of ways that prison officers can use their power so that a complaint is not raised," she said.

"You could be threatened back from residential back over to secure, you could be threatened to be put on a safety order, you could be threatened to be breached."

Laws around strip searches also needed changing, Ms Kilroy said, going so far as to say it fostered corruption, with reports some male staff watch women being frisked on security cameras.

"It's actually lawful for them to sexually assault women on a daily basis through the strip search process under the Corrective Services Act," she said.

An independent inspectorate office could make decisions on any issue affecting prisoners that could be "abusive, corruptive or (at) risk of corruption".

But in order for it to be effective, staff from the inspectorate could not be embedded within a particular prison for more than two years, Ms Kilroy said.

"We need to rotate people so there's fresh eyes that can be seeing what's actually happening," she said, recommending other staff should also be moved around.

"That will bring us the transparency and accountability within the prison system."

Ms Kilroy, a self-proclaimed abolitionist who doesn't believe in prisons, conceded what she was proposing would mean the Department of Corrective Services would lose several of its functions.