Grafton jail is all locked in

FEARS the Clarence Valley economy could be put under more pressure by the closing of Grafton jail have been put to rest.

The Daily Examiner has received a statement from the NSW Commissioner of Corrective Services, Ron Woodham, guaranteeing Grafton will not lose its prison to another region.

“Grafton Correctional Centre has been part of the local community since 1893,” Commissioner Woodham said.

“The City of Grafton and surrounds is one of the few major growth areas in New South Wales and Grafton Correctional Centre is always at its full capacity of 285 inmates.

“In response to this, the NSW Department of Treasury is conducting preliminary considerations for a new 600-bed correctional centre.

“If such a centre were to be built, I would be committed to this institution being in the Clarence Valley so that the job opportunities for the local economy and community would continue and, in fact, expand.”

Commissioner Woodham said if Treasury approved the building of a new correctional centre in the Valley it could be completed within three to five years.

He also raised the issue of privatising some NSW jails and said work practices were 'in need of urgent reform'.

“You may be aware the Government has decided to contract out the operations of two existing jails, Cessnock and Parklea, as well as part of our court and escort services,” he said.

“The union has responded to these reforms with a campaign of opposition,” he said.

“But the overtime bill to the taxpayers of NSW for prison officers across the State was $40 million last financial year, which is unacceptable.”

The Public Sector Association (including the Prison Officers Vocational Branch) is protesting against privatisation of jails by holding a public rally today at 10.30am at Market Square in Grafton, called Stop the Cell-Off.

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