Jail at top of priority list to reopen
GRAFTON Jail is top of the priority list for reactivation as the prison population in NSW increases, says Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis.
The State Government downsized the jail to a remand centre midway through last year in the face of fierce opposition from the community as about 100 jobs were lost.
"It's my understanding Grafton has been given the highest priority when consideration is being given to coping with increases in the prison population," Mr Gulaptis said.
Mr Gulaptis confirmed Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin was in Grafton in September to inspect the jail and hold talks. "Parliament was sitting, so I spoke to Mr Severin before his trip to Grafton," Mr Gulaptis
said. "Basically the message I got from him was it wouldn't take much for it to re-open if prison numbers demand it."
Mr Gulaptis said while the oldest section of the jail was no longer suitable to house prisoners, about two-thirds of the complex was up to date.
"There are three reasons Grafton has high priority," Mr Gulaptis said.
"Firstly, the partial closure had a significant impact on the community.
"Secondly, the jail has ample space for inmate placement and thirdly, because Grafton is a 'jail town' there is an acceptance in the community of the need to have a prison."
Mr Gulaptis said in the longer term and for similar reasons Grafton was also top of the pecking order for a new prison.
Despite the optimism of Mr Gulaptis, the office of the Commissioner was not so positive.
A Corrective Services NSW spokesman said it had no plans to open any additional accommodation at the "Grafton Intake and Transient Centre" at this stage, however, cannot rule out this ever occurring.