Jail cuts bite back

The final photo of Grafton Jail staff after the picket line disbanded on day six of the Grafton jail community picket line in 2012.
The final photo of Grafton Jail staff after the picket line disbanded on day six of the Grafton jail community picket line in 2012. Debrah Novak

THE Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis says the lack of planning and consultation that characterised the NSW Government decision to downsize the Grafton Jail has come back to bite it

Mr Gulaptis said it was "pretty sad" that only five Grafton prison officers had accepted transfers to Cessnock Jail, which was 51 officers short of its operating complement and could not open.

A spokeswoman from Clarence Valley Community Unions, Kassie Packwood, said the union had learned Cessnock Jail had been dubbed a "ghost jail" within the prison system.

She said the State Government was paying a heavy price for arrogantly refusing to consult with the Clarence Valley community over the closure of jail.

"The O'Farrell Government had assumed the closure of Grafton Jail would force staff from the Clarence to relocate to the upgraded Cessnock facility," Ms Packwood said.

"Clarence Valley Community Unions were saying from day one that the government needed to hit the pause button and review their plan around closing Grafton Jail.

"They arrogantly ignored the vast majority of the Grafton community and this is what they've ended up with three months down the track - a ghost jail in Cessnock."

Mr Gulaptis said it was still possible for the government to reopen the jail and work with the unions to run it in a cost-effective manner.

"There are two wings at the jail which are fairly new and could operate effectively," he said.

"Rather than closing down Grafton, the government should have been looking at closing a couple of Sydney jails, like Long Bay and Silverwater. I think that was one of the recommendations the unions made originally."

Topics:  grafton jail downsize job cuts

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