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Prison crisis on the brink

Retired jail governor and author John Heffernan has been a consistent critic of the NSW Government for its decision to downsize or close jails.
Retired jail governor and author John Heffernan has been a consistent critic of the NSW Government for its decision to downsize or close jails. Jojo Newby

A FORMER Grafton Jail governor says the NSW Government has to come clean on its plans for the prison system instead of constantly saying what it is not going to do.

Retired jail governor and author John Heffernan has been a consistent critic of the NSW Government for its decision to downsize or close jails.

Over the past month the Corrective Services NSW has been quizzed over rumours Grafton Jail, which was downsized in 2012, would be reactivated in response to the record number of prisoners in the prison system.

One of the rumours Mr Heffernan had heard was 100 female prisoners could be accommodated at the jail.

Corrective Services denied all the rumours, but Mr Heffernan said this is not good enough.

"I for one am sick and tired of the constant denials of both the department and the government of any plans to reopen closed correctional centres or build new jails," he said.

"I really think it's about time they stopped telling the community what they are not going to do and started telling us what they are going to do to address the rising inmate population.

"The government is on notice that the inmate population is going to rise next year to a record level - a level that the current system simply will in no way be able to cope."

Mr Heffernan said the continued delaying tactics are hard to explain.

He said the Bureau of Crime Statistics figures showed prison numbers of on track to hit 12,500 by March next year.

"I'm starting to wonder if in fact there is any plan or whether they are going to be purely reactive and wait until it happens," he said.

"Meanwhile their protracted inaction is placing correctional officers lives at risk as they struggle to manage frustrated prisoners in overcrowded conditions."

Topics:  grafton jail jail



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