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Tasmanian Inmates take warder captive
By Danny Rose - 08may05

TASMANIA'S prisons director Graeme Barber today rejected claims that inmates holding a warder hostage at Risdon prison had threatened to cut off his fingers.

Mr Barber today said "no threats have been made against his personal safety at any stage during negotiations".

He also said he was confident the siege could be peacefully resolved.

"I don't think this will stretch on for days," he told reporters outside the maximum security prison.

Former inmate Tony Bull, who has been in mobile phone contact with the hostage takers, yesterday said they were losing patience after food was not delivered to them.

"At the moment, the officer's hand is on the table," Mr Bull said last night.

"I'd say he's not far from losing a finger - they're very upset at the moment."

Mr Barber said the 20 inmates, holed up in the prison's reception area, had made some new demands today, but he would not say what they were.

He conceded conditions in the prison could be improved, but said the Tasmanian Government had committed $90 million to build a new jail which would open in July next year.

As part of earlier demands the prisoners called for Mr Barber's resignation, but he ruled that out, saying he had recently signed a five-year contract as prisons director.

Meanwhile, the Prison Action and Reform group, members of which are outside the jail, called for police negotiators to treat the inmates reasonably and seriously.

President Caroline Dean said the apparent arrival of crack Special Operations Group police could inflame the situation.

"The SOG arrived last night... my fear is if they push these guys too far, it is going to end badly," she said.

Mr Barber said there were 20 prisoners and one warden involved in the siege.

But Ms Dean said eight of the prisoners were being held against their will by other inmates.

She said she had contact with the prisoners up until last night when communications were cut.

Mr Barber, while not confirming the presence of SOG police, said they had "specialist" advice and support at the scene.

A stream of police cars and other vehicles this morning entered the prison grounds.

Police have been turning away families who have been arriving at the prison for Mothers' Day visits today.

Risdon Prison siege ends peacefully
May 9, 2005 - 9:14AM

The stand off at Hobart's Risdon Prison has ended.

Tasmanian Prisons Director Graeme Barber said the situation ended about 8am (AEST) on Monday when the last prisoner walked out of the reception area that had been occupied since Saturday afternoon.

The area has been secured and handed over to Tasmania Police as a crime scene.

A full forensic examination of the scene is occurring.

Prison authorities say substantial damage was caused to the reception area, with windows broken, furniture smashed and records burnt.

The prison will remain locked down for the rest of Monday.

Mother, fiancee defend inmate
THE mother and fiancee of inmate Conway Wayne Richardson say he is not the ringleader of a siege at Risdon Prison.

Richardson has been named, along with Michael Dennison and Brett Pickett, as part of a group of 20 inmates involved in a hostage standoff that began in the prison on Saturday afternoon.

But his mother, Christine Richardson, and fiancee, Louise Jenkins, yesterday said Richardson was the "mediator" and not a key organiser of the siege.

Mrs Richardson also said she was worried about what would happen to her son if police Special Operations Group officers stormed the reception area.

"I don't like them (SOG) at all, that's just death in my eyes, someone is going n

Prisoners said on Saturday that conditions in the prison were substandard and prisoners were regularly being mistreated.

Mr Barber said the final sticking point was in relation to food.

"A number of issues were placed before us this afternoon. We've been able to negotiate satisfactorily the majority of those," he said.

Mr Barber admitted the prison was not up to current maximum security rating standards.

Heavily armed Special Operations Group police are believed to be in the Risdon complex and a stream of police cars and other government vehicles entered and left the compound throughout yesterday.

Ex-inmate Tony Bull, who was in phone contact with several inmates on Saturday, said the ringleaders were long-term respected inmates.

Campaigners call for Risdon reform
May 09, 2005

ACTIVISTS have demanded prison reform after a lengthy siege at Tasmania's Risdon facility finally ended this morning.

Prison Action and Reform Group president Caroline Dean said she hoped the end of the stand-off would usher in a new era at the ageing and crowded prison.

"We're very relieved and pleased that it's over and ended peacefully," she said.

"We hope this heralds a new time in the prison from an autocratic, punitive system to a democratic rehabilitative system.

"We thank the community very much for their support."

Ms Dean said a rally planned by the group would still go ahead outside the prison at 10.30am (AEST) today.

About 100 people are expected at the rally.

Ms Dean also denied claims by Tasmanian Prisons Director Graeme Barber that her group had fuelled the siege situation by reporting to media that a hostage was in danger of having his fingers cut off.

She said the information came directly from the hostage takers and was heard by the media via speaker phone.

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