All he wanted was more toilet paper. But what correctional officers gave this 17-year-old boy was a spit mask and handcuffs.
A disturbing video of a teenage inmate at the Brisbane Correctional Centre at Wacol being fitted with a spit hood has been obtained by the Courier-Mail – despite the Queensland government claiming the practice does not happen.
The indigenous youth was in a cell by himself in February 2013, with no reading materials or TV, and his visits were limited. After ignoring warnings and pressing the emergency intercom twice, the 17-year-old – who was being remanded in an adult prison – was also handcuffed and left alone with the mask over his head for an hour.
Queensland is the only jurisdiction in Australia that treats 17-year-olds like adults.
Bill Byrne, the minister for corrective services, told state parliament on Tuesday the teenager had been fitted with a “helmet” used to stop prisoners injuring themselves.
But the director of the Prisoners’ Legal Service, Peter Lyons, isn’t convinced. “The suggestion that it was put on him for his own protection so he couldn’t injure himself – if you look at the entire video, it’s hard to justify it on the basis that he seemed to be an entirely compliant kid,” he told Guardian Australia. The teenager claims the guards had “made it quite clear” the headwear – which incorporates a clear visor that covers the face – was being fitted to “teach him a lesson”.
After the ABC’s Four Corners program revealed damning footage of child abuse in the Don Dale Detention Centre, NT, that involved spit hoods, Queensland’s Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the practice did not occur in the state. She did tell the ABC on Tuesday, however, that she wanted to see teenagers removed from adult prisons in Queensland, which is “the right thing to do”.
Mr Lyons says the boy was simply asking for more toilet paper.