Queensland’s  gaol and imprisonment crisis

“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”
― Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks

Keith Hamburger was an advocate of privatisation of prisons; he was the first Director-General of the Corrective Services Commission (QCS) and sought reform . My question of Mr Hamburger is Does the Qld Prison system suffer from institutional racism when 30% of the adult prison population are aboriginal people? Who is going to acknowledge the land on which Boggo Road stands and forget how many Murris were locked up there for no reason other than they were first nations people?

During a short two week stint in a Qld prison in 1980, a prison guard ironically saved my life when a mentally deranged inmate tried to drive my head through the concrete ‘yard’ floor in Stuart Creek prison in Townsville.

The Prison officer threatened to shoot us both.

I spent the remainder of my time in solitary. I was there for no better reason than that I was opposed to the repressive National Party government in Qld. Like thousands of others I had had enough. The specific charge was contempt of court during a trial about political graffiti in the T’vlle mall. Magistrate Winmill summarily sentenced me to 14 days in prison for uttering the words to the police prosecutor that he had the magistrate in his pocket.

Nearly half the prison was made up of Aboriginal people in 1980; it is still the same in 2022. – Ian Curr, Ed., 15 June 2022.

Speaker : Keith Hamburger AM

Wednesday 29th June at 7 pm

At the Paddo Workers Club – 2 Latrobe Terrace (cnr Given Terrace), Paddington.


Keith will be making an incisive and hard hitting talk on “How to reduce imprisonment in a pragmatic and humane way. Keeping communities safe – saving lives and saving money“

He will address the following issues :

  • Enhancing social and economic circumstances of First Nation Communities such that crime and recidivism is reduced
  • Dealing with ‘Duty of Care’ issues  existing in overcrowded adult and juvenile correction facilities
  • Achieving billions of dollars of savings through an alternative sentencing approach that reduces crime and recidivism, and the requirement for prison cells by :

# phasing out  juvenile detention centres. This process has occurred in other countries – so why is Australia such a laggard ?

Special Branch and uniformed police outside Boggo Road gaol after street marchers had been imprisoned in 1978

The attendance at this talk is free. However we do require an idea of numbers, so please complete the rsvp below :

Longer biography to follow, but here is why Keith will know what he is talking about:

Keith was Queensland’s first Director General  of the then Queensland Corrective Services Commission (QCSC) ( December 1988 – June 1997 ).

Keith, responsible to the QCSC Board, led successful implementation of the Kennedy Commission of Inquiry Reform Agenda and achieved one of the most cost-effective systems of Corrections in Australia including the lowest return to prison rate during this period.

# diverting thousands of adult offenders each year to Healing and Rehabilitation Facilities

# Giving life, to the principles of Justice Reform, Reconciliation, Justice reinvestment and to the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody.

Note :

60%-70% of children in Qld juvenile detention are First nation people

40%-60% of adult offenders are incarcerated for non-violent crimes

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