Prison officers could be voting as to whether the Grafton jail is reopened.
Prison officers could be voting as to whether the Grafton jail is reopened. Brendan Ray

Move to reopen old jails

NSW prison officers could be voting on Monday to fully reopen Grafton Jail says a former governor of the jail.

Former governor John Heffernan said he learned late yesterday the executive of the Prison Officer Branch of the Public Service Association met last Monday and formulated some options to put to a vote.

"Option 1 is to do nothing, keep the status quo, which means refusing to take new prisoners into the system," Mr Heffernan said.

"Option 2 is more complex, but includes a proposal to reopen Grafton and Kirkconnell jails."

Mr Heffernan said the POB executive met to discuss a proposal from Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin for an inquiry into a decision to remove prison officers from WorkCover legislation.

I think they're shooting for the stars hoping they get the moon.

"The O'Farrell Government cut work cover provisions for the Public Service, but gave exemptions to police and emergency services personnel except for prison officers and the fire brigade," he said.

"Over time he included the fire brigade in the exemption, but not prison officers. This has upset them, especially as overcrowding in jails due to their (government) policy is making their job more dangerous."

Mr Heffernan said the proposal also included a right of return for Grafton prison officers who lost their jobs in the 2012 downsizing. As well the POB could ask for an 18 to 24-month moratorium on privatisation of the prison system and the construction of a publicly-run 1000-bed jail.

"I'm not sure how successful they will be," he said. "I think they're shooting for the stars hoping they get the moon."



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