Prisoner iso claims

Holly ThompsonSound Telegraph
Casuarina Prison.
Camera IconCasuarina Prison. Credit: Ben Crabtree/WA News, Ben Crabtree

A prisoner who says he spent months in isolation at a maximum-security prison after chasing a guard with a broom handle and throwing a dustpan at him has had a month added to his jail time.

Keil Kevin John Knapp, 30, told Rockingham Magistrate’s Court he was confined for about two months after an incident at Casuarina Prison in July. His lawyer, Rachel Colgan, said her client had been through “a significant punishment of a lengthy period” after being placed in separate confinement under the Disruptive Prisoner Program.

Knapp — who was first jailed in 2014 for five years over two counts of burglary and one count of stealing — pleaded guilty to assaulting a public officer, admitting he chased a prison guard with a broom handle and threw a dustpan at him.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Mick Fallows said the incident occurred on July 5 about 4.40pm, the same time Knapp and a co-accused had started to throw items such as coffee cups and cereal boxes around one of the prison break rooms.

Sgt Fallows said Knapp had thrown the dustpan at the officer, which had hit his thigh and caused “significant bruising”.

Ms Colgan said Knapp said the dustpan was “lightweight” but accepted he had thrown it.

She also said Knapp had mental health issues including post-traumatic-stress disorder, which had made his confinement even harder.

Sgt Fallows said Knapp had two prior convictions of assaulting a public officer: in 2018 he had two months added to his sentence and in 2019 he had four months added on.

Magistrate Genevieve Cleary said she would only give Knapp one additional month this time because he had spent such a significant time in solitary. “Whatever your issues are with the prison system, you can’t be disruptive,” she said.

The WA Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services, reported the “department’s disruptive prisoner order was a source of concern” in a report released in May.

It said the order meant WA prisoners could be kept in separate confinement for 60 days, instead of the 30-day limit under the Prisons Act 1981.

“It is not appropriate (and arguably not lawful) for the Department to create a regime equivalent to separate confinement that does not comply with the legislation,” the report said.

“Ignoring legislative requirements creates a risk of prisoner mistreatment, and exposes the Department to a potential legal challenge.”

A Department of Justice spokeswoman said she could not confirm how long an individual prisoner was kept in confinement and said the Disruptive Prisoner Program had been renamed the Prison Order for the management of disruptive prisoners.

“Disruptive prisoners are those who pose a serious threat to the good order and security of WA prisons and to the safety of staff, themselves, other people in custody and potentially the wider community,” she said.

“In order to manage these risks, the Department of Justice, Corrective Services employs a range of statutory and policy .”

“All prisoners placed on management regimes are afforded the opportunity to change their behaviour and return to the mainstream prison population.”

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