THEY may have wronged society in the past, but a small group of Bathurst Jail inmates are working hard to give back to their local community.
The correctional complex has long run a program to give minimum security inmates in the Honour House the opportunity to volunteer their labour out in the Bathurst community.
So far this year, inmates have contributed 2098 hours of labour – the equivalent to $36,295 in savings for the community.
The 23 inmates in the Honour House work in a range of areas – eight for Defence Community Dogs, two in the main prison, and the balance on community projects.
Among the range of services the inmates provide are assistance with set up and pack up at the Royal Bathurst Show, the Lifeline Book Fair and the Rockley Rodeo, as well as regular lawn maintenance in Bathurst region parks and reserves.
Under supervision, inmates also train assistance dogs which are then given for free to Defence Force veterans who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or depression.
Corrective Services NSW senior overseer Scott Keen has worked with the inmates out in the Bathurst community for the past 19 years.
During his time with the program, he has seen how it benefits inmates.
The recidivism drops quite a bit when you run these programs.Corrective Services NSW senior overseer Scott Keen
“The more we get these guys into the community and the more they connect back with the community and feel a part of it … well, I haven’t seen a lot reoffend,” Mr Keen said.
“The recidivism drops quite a bit when you run these programs.
“I had a 22-year-old [inmate] tell me when he was leaving, he’d worked for me for nine months, he said: ‘I have to say, you are the most significant adult in my life’. That was six years ago and he still hasn’t reoffended.”
At the Royal Bathurst Show last month, inmates undertook a range of jobs including setting up cattle yards, putting in gates, pickets and bunting for parking, and cleaning the pavilions.
“What takes up to eight blokes and me to do in half a day would take the show volunteers a couple of days,” he said.
“My blokes, when we go out to work, they wear khaki pants and a high vis shirt plus I am with them, so everyone knows who they are.”
Mr Keen has thanked the Bathurst community for its continued support of the various programs run by the jail that give inmates the opportunity to work towards their rehabilitation while also giving back to society.
“The Bathurst community has always been very supportive and appreciative of the community work,” he said.