The new prison that has opened near Grafton, on the north coast of New South Wales, will become Australia’s largest prison, eventually housing up to 1,700 inmates.
The main point:
- Australia’s largest prison is now open on the north coast of NSW
- This will eventually hold 1,700 prisoners
- It will be operated by a private consortium including Serco
The facility was built at a cost of approximately $ 700 million, and will be operated under a public-private partnership involving the State Government and a consortium involving John Laing, John Holland and Serco.
‘1,700 is anger’
The involvement of the private sector, and in particular Serco, has raised concerns.
Brett Collins, of the inmate advocacy group Justice Action, said the operation of such a large facility should not be left to private companies.
“Two hundred inmates is a much more efficient and effective way of managing an internal community – so 1,700 is an outrage,” he said.
“We’ve seen Serco in the past where they don’t have a feedback mechanism … we don’t have checks in parliament on Serco administrators.
Mr Collins says it costs about $ 100,000 a year to keep someone in prison in Australia, and research shows those who are sent to prison are more likely to commit repeat offenses.
‘Good balance between private and public’
The center is designed to accommodate 1,000 men and 300 women with maximum security, and 400 male convicts with minimum security.
It will attract prisoners from across the state, with the first 90 arriving on July 1.
Prisons have opened at a time of renewed focus on the Australian criminal justice system, in particular, Indigenous detention rates, which have nearly doubled in the last 30 years.
Clarence Correctional Center general manager Glen Scholes said the goal remained the same, regardless of whether he worked in the private or public systems.
“My personal incentive, to get out of the state system, where I was in charge of 15 prisons and now I’ve come to run this one, is to actually apply this model.
“I have to report to the department every month about how we went … they asked me to report every activity.”
The state’s correctional minister, Anthony Roberts, said he was not worried about the personal model.
“Victoria and NSW are clearly taking the lead in ensuring that we have an excellent balance between private and publicly run prisons … perhaps the two states that have been most successful in reducing recidivism and ensuring the safety of our staff.”
The complex is located in Lavadia in the Clarence Valley, about 12.5 kilometers from Grafton, which looks set to lose its only air service thereafter. strange quarrel between local councils and regional operators REX.
Gumbaynggirr’s woman, Julie Perkins, is part of the community consultation committee for the Clarence Correctional Center.
He said discussions were still ongoing about what transportation options could be established.
“Nothing is concrete as far as I know,” said Ms Perkins.
Much work was lost at Grafton when a existing prisons have been dramatically reduced in 2012.
Local lawmaker Chris Gulaptis, who protested against his own government’s decision at the time, welcomed the new facilities.
He said the creation of 600 permanent jobs would provide a $ 560 million boost to the regional economy.
“Those economic benefits will only grow now through the provision of local goods and services, and the extra wages it brings to the region,” Gulaptis said.