TWO MEN were locked up overnight in the Wagga police station cells and other prisoners were forced to sleep in the courthouse cells as the region’s custody system struggled to cope this week.
Usually, Wagga and district people who are refused police bail overnight are transferred to the Junee Correctional Centre while waiting for their court appearance.
But The Daily Advertiser has learned that Junee was unable to accept any more prisoners for a short period, creating a log jam of custody cases that filled court and police cells.
The situation worsened when airconditioning that cools the Albury courthouse cells broke down, forcing the transfer of two prisoners to Wagga.
“The cells are chock-a-block,” Wagga criminal lawyer, David Barron, said on Wednesday.
He said it was unusual for people to be held overnight at the Wagga police station.
Mr Barron agreed multiple arrests after Christmas and tougher bail laws would have contributed to the squeeze. “It’s always a busy time of year, but the bail laws have certainly had an impact,” he said.
There was one report that the 790-bed Junee Correctional Centre was “full”, but it is understood that the issue there may have been the temporary unavailability of the right type of beds.
A Corrective Services NSW spokesman on Thursday said the Wagga courthouse cells had been full briefly because of the transfer of prisoners from Albury.
“They were placed in the Wagga court cells until appropriate beds became available at Junee Correctional centre,” he said.
“The problem at Albury has been resolved, and there are now only two offenders at each of the Wagga and Albury court cells.”
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