The high security female sections of Clarence Correctional Centre, Grafton. New grafton jail. Photo: Tim Jarrett
The high security female sections of Clarence Correctional Centre, Grafton. New grafton jail. Photo: Tim Jarrett

Prison to accept visitors for the first time

MANY members of the public will soon see inside the Clarence Correctional Centre for the first time as restrictions are lifted.

In-person family visits have been off limits at NSW prisons since they were suspended in March to ensure the safety of staff and inmates during COVID-19. The restrictions have been in place throughout the operational lifetime of the new Clarence facility at Lavadia, which accepted its first inmates in Jul.

In-person family visits are set to resume at prisons across NSW from this Monday (November 23).

 

Commissioner of Corrections NSW Peter Severin at the opening of the Clarence Correctional Centre in June 2020. Photo: Tim Jarrett.
Commissioner of Corrections NSW Peter Severin at the opening of the Clarence Correctional Centre in June 2020. Photo: Tim Jarrett.

 

Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said in-person visits would be reintroduced carefully and safely, with restrictions on the number of visitors, the length of the visit and with strict physical-distancing in place.

"Correctional facilities are particularly vulnerable environments and we all need to work together to reduce the risk of COVID-19 entering our centres," Mr Severin said.

"I want to thank the families and friends of people in custody for their patience during this challenging time and for also embracing the new video visits we have introduced.

 

The new Clarence Correctional Centre, opening next Thursday 25 June, will deliver 600 jobs and a $560 million boost to the regional economy, according to Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis.
The new Clarence Correctional Centre, opening next Thursday 25 June, will deliver 600 jobs and a $560 million boost to the regional economy, according to Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis.

 

"Close to 150,000 video visits have taken place across the state during the past seven months and we will continue to offer these as an alternative to in-person visits."

All visitors will be required to comply with new safety measures such as physical distancing, screening criteria, temperature checks and use of personal protective equipment.

 

Security checks inside the the Clarence Correctional Centre at Lavadia. New Grafton jail.
Security checks inside the the Clarence Correctional Centre at Lavadia. New Grafton jail.

 

As part of the ongoing health and safety measures, visits will now have:

• A limit of two visitors (two adults or one child and one adult) per inmate.

• A requirement for surgical masks to be worn for the entire visit.

• A fist or elbow bump at the beginning and end of the visit is permitted, but inmates and their visitors must maintain physical distance at all other times.

• The overall number of visits has been reduced to apply the 4sqm rule.

• A maximum of 30 minutes per visit.

• No food or drinks available.

 

Security checks at the new Clarence Correctional Centre, Grafton. Photo: Tim Jarrett
Security checks at the new Clarence Correctional Centre, Grafton. Photo: Tim Jarrett

 

Mr Severin said the number of visitors could eventually increase, but visit conditions may also change at any time if an increased risk of COVID-19 is identified.

"I would ask all visitors to please be responsible and not come to a correctional centre if you are experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19," Mr Severin said.

"Video visits will continue to be available and we encourage parents or guardians to consider whether these may be a better option for children at this time.

 

 

Clarence Correctional Centre, Grafton. New grafton jail. Photo: Tim Jarrett
Clarence Correctional Centre, Grafton. New grafton jail. Photo: Tim Jarrett

 

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and the advice of NSW Health, to ensure the safety of our staff, inmates and visitors."

Phone lines will be open from Wednesday (November 18) for in-person visit bookings.

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