A JUDGE yesterday slammed overcrowded prisons and police cells, saying the situation was out of control and appeared to be getting worse.
Judge Roy Punshon, who was sitting in the County Court at Ballarat, said the situation had become desperate and even asked one man in custody what the situation was like at the Ballarat police station cells.
Referring in particular to one man who still remains in the local cells almost two weeks after being found guilty by a jury, Judge Punshon said he wanted the man taken to Melbourne immediately.
“But I can’t get him there,” he said.
“This is a very, very unsatisfactory situation.
“For all prisoners, it’s completely unacceptable.”
While many in custody remain in the Ballarat police station cells due to a lack of beds in places including Melbourne, those already in Melbourne aren’t being brought to Ballarat for court cases because local cells are full.
It is believed the local cells are equipped to hold about 12 people and were at bursting point yesterday with more than 20 people packed in.
Numerous prisoners were not brought to Ballarat for their court matters yesterday due to the overcrowding.
In one case magistrate Kay Robertson refused to sentence a man via video link, saying it was completely inappropriate.
The man’s matter was stood down until he can physically appear in court.
Corrections Victoria spokesperson Rachel Tosolini said corrections had boosted prisoner transport services and would continue to support prisoners to appear via video link when the court determined it was appropriate.
“This removes the need for prisoners to be transported to and from court and will help relieve pressure on police cells during this peak in prisoner numbers,” she said.
Ms Tosolini said 631 extra beds had been opened since the start of 2011 and a further 1915 beds are expected to be delivered by 2017-18.