Prison reform to improve community safety

Issued: Sunday, 20 March 2016

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The NSW prison system will undergo a major reform program to lift standards, strengthen accountability and help meet the Government’s commitment to reduce adult reoffending by 5 per cent by 2019.

Performance targets on measures such as out of cell hours, participation in rehabilitation activities and security, as well as benchmarked budgets will be developed and introduced over two years to allow comparisons between all prisons.

The immediate market testing of John Morony Correctional Centre (JMCC) at Windsor will strengthen this process, with the prison’s future operation decided through a competitive tender between the public and the private sector.

Market testing will give the Government a realistic idea of how better outcomes can be achieved and how much it should cost to run a successful prison in NSW.

In addition to the new prison at Grafton and expanding Parklea, more than 1,100 extra beds will support this reform, including 620 modular beds at Cessnock – the equivalent of a new prison, and 160 at South Coast.

The Government is also considering other options to address bed capacity, including reopening Parramatta Gaol. Also underway is a review of inmate education to improve the provision of literacy, numeracy and employment skills.

Minister for Corrections David Elliott said prisons that consistently fail to meet performance targets and benchmarked budgets could be market tested to create an opportunity for improved performance.

“This reform will help deliver a prison system that accommodates more inmates, operates more efficiently, and has a greater focus on rehabilitation, without compromising safety and security,” Mr Elliott said.

Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) Commissioner Peter Severin said that for the first time CSNSW will make a competing bid to continue running a prison and show how it can be more effective.

“This is an opportunity for positive change at the grass roots level, involving all management and staff,” Commissioner Severin said.