Multi-billion prison plan unveiled
Almost $4 billion will be spent on 3,000 new prison beds into the New South Wales prison system over the next four years.
The State Government has announced a bid to deal with rampant overcrowding, which puts prisoners and staff at risk.
NSW’s prison population has hit a record high of 12,000 inmates, forcing Corrective Services to cram more mattresses into cells just to stay on top of the crisis.
Many though the Government had no solution, after it ditched a plan to reopen Parramatta jail and said it would sell Long Bay jail.
It recently announced plans to build a new prison at Wollondilly, and now a $3.8 billion plan covering the next four years.
“The NSW budget for the next financial year will see an extra $2.2 billion in capital for our prison population and $1.6 billion recurrent to manage that,” Corrections Minister David Elliott said.
The plan will see the provision of;
- 2,800 beds over three years, including 1,700 at Grafton jail
- 620 at Cessnock Correctional Centre in the Hunter Valley
- 160 at South Coast Correction Centre near Nowra
- 135 at the reopened Berrima and Wollongong correctional centres
Mr Elliot says the money will cover over 7,000 new prison beds, but documents released so far only refer to about 3,000 extra beds.
“The money also includes a development to expand another 4,200 beds that would come in over the next five years,” he said.
“It's no secret that our prison population is increasing, and I want to make sure that when the courts order the incarceration of people that they are incarcerated safely, securely and we provide them with the rehabilitation services that are necessary.”
Research earlier this year blamed the increase in prison inmate numbers on changes to the way that courts deal with suspects and offenders, combined with more people being charged with serious offences.
Mr Elliott said money would go to rehabilitation programs to “help meet the Government's commitment to reduce adult reoffending by five per cent”.
Both the Opposition and the Greens want more details on those programs.
Labor spokesperson Guy Zangari wants more educators in the state's jails.
“At the moment there are 153 Corrections educators in the system,” he said.
“The Government has put on the table that instead of those there will be clerks.
“We don't know whether those teachers who'll go will be able to reapply for these new positions.”
“The teachers are experienced; you simply cannot put a clerk in there, someone who has a certificate IV and no real experience in dealing with behaviour modification.”
Greens MP David Shoebridge said the policy was just a big bill for past failures.
“We now know what the price of Mike Baird's social failure is in terms of broken bail laws, aggressive policing, new offences and underfunded courts,” he said.
“It's a $3.8 billion price tag of failure.
“That's what's going to see more and more of our citizens put in extremely expensive jails.”