Grafton Correctional Centre.
Grafton Correctional Centre. Brendan Ray

Chambers say it 'just makes sense' to re-open Grafton jail

RECENT reports into overcrowded prisons in New South Wales has the state's Northern Rivers Business Chamber regional Manager John Murray imploring the government to re-open the Grafton Correctional Centre.

NSW prisoner numbers continue to reach new heights and cost taxpayers more than $2.7 million a day.

Mr Murray said the closure of the Grafton jail in 2012 was clearly a rushed decision and one that has hurt the local community big time.

"To have almost 100 jobs lost in the Grafton area proved to be a massive hit to the local economy," he said.

"It not only should be re-opened but with other prisons over-crowded it needs to be re-opened.

"It's time to correct the mistake and get this facility back up and running again."

Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Phil Belletty added about $8 million had been taken out of the local economy with the closure.

"The State Government needs to understand we have a good facility here and one that the local community supports," Mr Belletty said.

"There is considerable overcrowding with a large number of other prisons surely should be the trigger to re-opening Grafton jail."

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found the adult prison population increased 8.6% to 11,363 over the six months from September to March.

NSW jails are verging on capacity, with incoming inmate numbers 12% higher than those discharged in March.

BOCSAR attributed the increase to a 45.7% upsurge between June 2014 and March 2015 in the number of adult inmates being refused bail.

"The growth in imprisonment rates in NSW over the last 15 years has helped bring down the crime rate but there are other less expensive ways of reducing crime," BOCSAR director Dr Don Weatherburn said.

Greens MP David Shoebridge argued only a return to less stringent bail laws could turn the surge around.

"The increase in the remand population alone is already costing $157,680 per day and will deliver a $57.5 million blow-out in the NSW prison budget," he said.

The figures showed 53% of all juvenile inmates were Aboriginal, despite the ethnic group making up only 2.5% of young people in Australia.

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