need freedom with hand in jail
need freedom with hand in jail

EXCLUSIVE: Six-month-old baby in jail

FEARS are being held for the safety of a six-month-old baby locked up in the Darwin Prison.

The baby arrived at the prison with its mother on Wednesday and prison officers say they were given little warning.

"I got a phone call about 9.30pm saying 'what the f**k, she's here, we weren't told, there's no procedures in place about the mum or bub's safety'," a prison source said.

Rumours of the baby's arrival began circulating in mid-September, however when questioned on September 17, NT Corrections said there was "no current application for a woman prisoner to have her child live with her in an NT correctional centre".

But the NT News has seen an email chain dating back to September 16 that shows the Darwin Correctional Precinct general manager Superintendent Jon Jones was in discussions about housing the infant - whose father was also in custody - and who had only ever been breastfed.

NT Correctional Services does not comment on prisoner placements but Acting Commissioner David Thompson told the NT News on Thursday that the Darwin Correctional Centre accommodated female prisoners and their babies in a safe and secure cottage. "We are not aware of any correctional officer concerns for the safety of a child in the cottage," he said.

 

Fears are being held for the safety of a six-month-old baby locked up in the Darwin Correctional Centre.
Fears are being held for the safety of a six-month-old baby locked up in the Darwin Correctional Centre.

The mother pleaded guilty to supplying a schedule 2 drug (less than commercial quantity) to a child and will be released after three months and put on an 18-month Good Behaviour Bond.

Corrections officers say, in a prison where NT WorkSafe officers won't even go because they fear for their safety, the baby and mother from Groote Eylandt will not be protected.

"We don't think it's safe enough for us and now they're putting a baby in there," an officer, who asked not to be named, said.

It's understood the last baby to be locked up in Darwin was a few years ago.

"We're not trying to avert the system but do we really need to bring a baby in (to a volatile situation)?," the officer said. "We have a duty of care so we're caught between trying to do the right thing and putting ourselves in an unsafe environment."

Before children are incarcerated with parents, plans are tailored around needs of mother and baby, including if there is family the child could stay with.

phillippa.butt@news.com.au

 

 

Originally published as EXCLUSIVE: Six-month-old baby in jail


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