Union call for go-back-to-gaol card - Public Service Association

Union call for go-back-to-gaol card

PS News online – 29 April 2015

The Public Service Association (PSA) and local businesses have called for Grafton Gaol to reopen as a maximum security facility to ease “dangerous overcrowding” in NSW correctional facilities.

The PSA, which covers the State’s Correctional Officers, says it could be done “quickly, at low cost and with enormous benefit to the local community”.

General Secretary of the PSA, Anne Gardiner has written to the Premier, saying it makes smart use of an existing facility.

“We have grave concerns regarding the issue of overcrowding in NSW correctional facilities, which puts inmates and prison officers at great risk,” Ms Gardiner said.

“There is little or no capacity within the NSW system to house any additional inmates who may be detained in custody following the new bail laws being implemented in early 2015.

“Reopening Grafton would ease the pressure cooker situation Correctional Officers face each day without the support of adequate workers compensation.”

The union’s call to reopen the gaol has been backed by the Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which puts the immediate economic benefit at $8 million.

Almost 100 jobs were lost – 80 per cent of the workforce – when the jail’s capacity was reduced from 275 to 60 beds in 2012, the Chamber said.

After 23 years working at the jail, prison officer Stephen Jeffs was among those affected by the layoffs.

“It was my future gone,” Mr Jeffs said.

“I’m a father of 3, grandfather of 8 – I sit back now and watch my town gradually go down a hole, shops closing and sport dying.”

The Grafton Gaol opened in 1893 and was upgraded to a maximum security complex in 1924.

In 1991 it was converted to periodic detention centre, called Grafton Correctional Centre.

The women’s wing closed in 2011 and it was downgraded to a remand centre in 2012.


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