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Minister joins Grafton community at prison celebration

Date published: Tuesday 11 September 2018

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Hundreds of people from the Grafton community joined Minister for Corrections David Elliott and other officials as the city’s heritage-listed prison on Hoof Street marked 125-years on Saturday.

The special celebration at Grafton Correctional Centre included an official ceremony and plaque unveiling, a K9 Unit and escort-vehicle displays, historical images, a charity barbecue and inmate-produced products for purchase, with all funds going to Buy a Bale.

Minister Elliott and CSNSW Commissioner Peter Severin met with staff to thank them for their commitment to the centre and to keeping the community safe.

“Grafton Gaol has been a landmark in this beautiful Northern Rivers city for the past 125-years and we will continue to be an important employer in the region,” Mr Elliott said.

“The construction of the 1,700-bed Clarence Correctional Centre on the outskirts of the city, is creating about 1,100 construction jobs and 600 operational jobs, with about $560 million injected into your economy over the next 20 years.”

Grafton Gaol opened in 1893 with just 27 inmates and now houses 280 men and women, who are managed by about 70 staff, including custodial officers, industry overseers and psychologists,” Ms Paynter said.

Commissioner Severin said it was the staff at the centre, who were at the heart of the historic prison’s longevity.

“Our officers at Grafton do an incredible job in managing inmates, offering programs to reduce reoffending and keeping the community safe,” Mr Severin.

“While the actual building is impressive from an architectural and historical sense, it is our staff who I am most proud of.”

Governor Michelle Paynter thanked her staff for making the day a success: “It was great to open our doors to the community and share the terrific work of our officers and staff.”

Grafton Gaol opened in 1893, with the brick, sandstone and terracotta tile building the result of a public design competition won by Sydney architect Henry Austin Wilshire, who beat 41 other entrants for the £105 prize.

The Grafton Intake and Transient Centre as its formally known houses 260 male minimum- to maximum-security inmates, and 20 minimum-security women in the June Baker Centre.

Inmates work in food, laundry, timber and agricultural industries and undertake education, vocational training and therapeutic programs to prepare them for a life outside prison.