GIVING a very different perspective on the impact of the jail downsizing, the wife of an inmate braved the huge crowd yesterday to speak on behalf of the 240 other people in the community whose families have followed them to Grafton.
She told local member Chris Gulaptis moving inmates was tearing already devastated families apart, "and it hurts", she said.
"You're turning a trip over the bridge into a 12-hour drive," she said, adding it would have a detrimental effect on the rehabilitation of prisoners
"The inmates are in there because they've made bad decisions.
"Mr Gulaptis you just did the same thing."
Other speakers were equally moving, including former long-serving warder June Baker who said the downsizing would be "devastating" for the community.
The over-arching theme for long-time Graftonians was the constant knocks the city has faced over the years from closures of everything from the match factory to the abattoir and that the Valley couldn't take any more.
Chamber of Commerce president Jeremy Challacombe was met with resounding applause when he delivered his speech. "This must be the last time we gather together to mourn another loss," he said.
Assistant general secretary of the Public Service Association Shane O'Brien didn't miss the target in his speech aimed at Mr Gulaptis.
"Someone told me to rip him a new one," he said, adding he didn't now feel he had to, as the crowd had done just that.
"The jail doesn't just buy in milk and bread.
"Half the staff don't live in Red Rock or Corindi.
"The impact isn't just psychological.
"It's real and it's bad news for the Clarence Valley.
"It's not simply a box of bad apples."
Check out the videos of today's rally online at dailyexaminer.com.au.