PNG jail at 'dangerous' overcrowding level

7:31 am on 27 July 2015

The MP for Papua New Guinea's Manus Island says the province's jail is dangerously overcrowded and a new facility is desperately needed.

Harvested logs in PNG

Illegal logging is one cause of the overcrowding in the Manus Island jail. Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

Ronny Knight says the current facility is built to hold about 20 people, but there are currently 200 inside, which he blames on a booming population and illegal logging.

He says nobody from Australia's asylum seeker detention centre on the island is kept in this facility.

PNG MP Ronny Knight

Ronny Knight says the Manus Island jail is ten times over its capacity. Photo: PNG Parliament website

Mr Knight says a new prison is planned for the next couple of years, but wider reforms are needed as many of the inmates are locked up for minor offences.

"Maybe we should look more at trying to get people on probation. Some of these people are in jail for things that they wouldn't be jailed for in other countries, minimal things that could be put out on probation or they could be given community service so we're looking at trying for prevention rather than looking for a cure here."

Ronny Knight says over the years infrastructure has not kept up with population growth.