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JIC Post:By Tony KochThe AustralianALLEGATIONS that a 17-year-old female prisoner is being forced to sleep with high-security lesbian inmates at the Townsville Women's Prison are being investigated by Queensland police and the state's anti-corruption watchdog.The complaints, contained in a 40-page document handed to police and the Crime and Misconduct Commission last week by Townsville legal services, include allegations that prison officers at the north Queensland jail are involved in systematic abuse of inmates. Officers are alleged to have allowed a prisoner with hepatitis C to cook meals and handle food for inmates, despite complaints that she is not compelled to wear gloves. Another two prisoners who prepare food are alleged to have unspecified "communicable diseases". It is also alleged that several young prisoners who are addicted to petrol sniffing are allowed to work using motor mowers and whipper-snippers from which they syphon petrol to feed their addiction. Prison officers have allegedly ignored the practice, with one commenting that the petrol should be given to other prisoners as well, "because it keeps them quiet". A Queensland Corrective Services Department spokesman yesterday confirmed the allegations had been referred to the CMC for investigation. The spokesman said the prisons department was examining the allegations and, where appropriate, would refer them to the Corrective Services Investigations Unit, a special branch of the police service, the prisons chief inspector or the ethical standards unit for further investigation. The allegations are contained in detailed statements taken from prisoners by the Townsville prisoners' legal service. Prison officers are accused of stealing inmates' property, including underclothes, compact discs and tobacco. Queensland is the only state in Australia which still allows teenage male and female prisoners aged under 18 to serve time in adult jails. The statement concerning the 17-year-old inmate says: "The officers have placed her in the same cell as an inmate known for sexual aggression on other inmates. (The prisoner) was not gay prior to coming to prison." The statement from another woman prisoner concerning the girl said she and another young prisoner were caught in a "love triangle" with the same "sexually aggressive" inmate. The prisoner wrote: "The other inmate involved was (the 17-year-old) and after the woman's threats to both of them, they tried to suicide together and both ended up in the crisis support unit because they were so frightened of her." The document said that there was an incident on July 8 this year involving a prisoner with hepatitis C who was working in the kitchen. Inmates were concerned about the risks her medical condition posed to them.
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