AFTER two years construction, Bathurst Jail's $160m expansion is just weeks away from opening.
The state-of-the-art facility includes 220 new maximum security beds for male inmates along with additional ancillary infrastructure.
Minister for Counter Terrorism and Corrective Services, Anthony Roberts, who was in Bathurst earlier this month for the commissioning of the two new wings, said corrective services was more than just "locking up offenders."
Governor, Mark Kennedy, said as part of the new build, the jail has the ability to incorporate digital technology, in cell, so offenders can complete online, in-house offence specific programs targeted to offenders criminogenic needs in addition to targeted educational classes.
"We have an industries area which will provide meaningful work programs including a new kitchen and laundry that will service four other centres," he said.
"We have purpose built programs areas and education classrooms for group programs," he added.
In addition to a focus on rehabilitation, the two new wings boast state of the art security, including full body scanners, used on both visitors and prisoners.
The new reception room, where inmates are processed, is a far cry from the reception area at the old centre, with individual interview rooms, a purpose built clinic and an AVL suite, which facilitates in house court processing and also AVL visitation with solicitors.
We know that family connections are vital for an offender's rehabilitation.Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin on the jail's ability to connect inmates with families
All furniture, including chairs and tables were built by inmates working in CSI ( Corrective Services Industries).
A big part of the rehabilitation process for many inmates is heading to work within the jail. CSI covers anything from cooking and preparing meals for prisons across the state, washing and providing the linen for inmates or making security fencing.
As mentioned earlier, security is state of the art; in addition to full body scanners, there are scanners in the floor of the entry which go under every vehicle which enters, and exits the facility.
Video visits are connecting inmates with their families
Inmates and their loved ones have been staying connected during COVID-19 restrictions, with the number of video and tablet visits hitting the 100,000 mark this month.
Corrective Services NSW staff across the state worked hard to enable the family video visits, and in some cases connected inmates to parents overseas, reunited them with pets and even permitted one inmate to attend his daughter's wedding via AVL.
At Bathurst Correctional Centre, more than 4,800 video visits have occurred since April.
Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin praised correctional officers and administration staff for utilising the technology.
"The past six months have been a challenging time and our staff have adapted and embraced innovation to ensure inmates can maintain the important and valuable links with their loved ones," Mr Severin said.
"I want to thank NSW corrections staff for their hard work, enthusiasm and passion. We know that family connections are vital for an offender's rehabilitation and our staff are committed to reducing reoffending and keeping the community safe."
Minister for Counter Terrorism and Corrective Services, Anthony Roberts, spoke about the success of video and tablet visits between inmates and their families while in Bathurst earlier this month.
He said inmates have been able to connect more often with their families; Dad's have been able to read their kids a book at night before they go to sleep, and not having to go into a jail is less traumatic for the child.
He said there has also been a significant reduction in the smuggling of contraband items into the jails (including illegal drugs).
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