Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Qld man kept in jail beyond release date

Queensland's Department of Corrective Services has admitted holding a prisoner in the Townsville jail for almost four months beyond his scheduled release date.

Jerry Ngakyunkwokka was held for 118 days in the Townsville Correctional Centre before facing trial for his part in a riot in the Aboriginal settlement of Aurukun last year.

The judge instructed that pre-trial custody period be deducted from Mr Ngakyunkwokka's sentence but the instruction was overlooked and he spent almost four months wrongfully imprisoned.

A statement released by Corrective Services says the incident is being investigated by the Assistant Director-General of Custodial Corrections, who is also working to ensure the error is not repeated with other Queensland prisoners.

Mr Ngakyunkwokka was released from prison last Thursday and was given advice on how to make a complaint should he wish to do so.

State Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg says there were 17 late releases last year.

"This Government doesn't have its hands on the levers when it comes to properly running our jail system in Queensland," he said.

Police Minister Judy Spence says it was a "dreadful error" by the Department and the man will be compensated.

She says the prisoner can claim up to $1,000 a day in compensation.

"Usually people are only kept for one or two days so this is the longest that I've ever seen and it's unacceptable," she said.

"Generally these mistakes occur because registrars in the court have difficulty interpreting judges decisions and that's why we have some of these problems."

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