|Prison staff at risk in over-crowded jails rife with 'drugs, fights and fires'|
Prison staff are at risk in South Australia as over-crowded prisons set new records for the number of drugs, fights and fires behind bars, the State Opposition has said.
The Department for Correctional Services' latest annual report showed there were 280 assaults over 12 months, almost 40 more than last financial year.
The number of fires on prison grounds reached 250, compared to seven recorded five years ago, and there were more than 1,000 drug-related incidents.
"These figures paint an alarming picture of chaos and dysfunction in our prison system," Opposition spokesperson John Gardner said.
"Our prison staff are being put at risk in such a violent environment, community safety is reduced.
"The only thing offenders learn in prison is how to get by in prison."
Mr Gardner said former treasurer Kevin Foley's infamous 2008 crime fighting mantra to "rack'em, pack'em and stack'em [in prison]" has not worked.
"How can we get offenders to engage with education and rehabilitation so they don't offend again when we put them in an environment so rife with fights, fires and drugs?"
Correctional Services Minister Tony Piccolo said the increase in incidents reflected the growing prisoner population and the Government was working to expand prison capacity.
"From time to time things will happen in the prison system but to suggest that we have some huge problem that's out of control is just nonsense," he said.
"[It's also a] slur on our hard working staff who do an excellent job in managing prisoners."
He said the prison beds would be increased by 300 by March 2017.
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