IN 18 months, the first inmates will be able to move into the new $110 million area of Bathurst Correctional Centre.
Construction got on the 220-bed expansion, which will eventually offer 160 modular cells and a series of industry buildings, got underway at the site after the July 17, 2018 sod turning.
On Thursday, member for Bathurst Paul Toole and local media were invited to the jail to tour the construction site and see the progress.
The industry buildings, which include ground storage, general goods storage, a kitchen and laundry, are expected to be complete within a few weeks time.
This will allow minimum security inmates to undertake employment in prison, which the jail’s acting Governor Louise Smith said would ideally have a positive impact on their rehabilitation.
“[There will be] more employment opportunities for inmates which hopefully means they will have the skills not to end up back in the corrections system,” she said.
Employment also keeps inmates occupied during the day, decreasing the likelihood of them becoming involved in drug activity or assaults.
With the first stage of the construction almost complete, the focus will soon shift to stage two, which will involve the construction of the accommodation, gatehouse and education facilities.
There were 80 modular cells delivered in November, with a further 80 expected to arrive in May.
The cells will be capable of holding one or two maximum security inmates.
The entire project is on track and scheduled for completion by mid-2020, with the first inmates expected to be housed in the new area in July that year.
The modular cells will be fitted with furniture manufactured by inmates that are employed by Corrective Services Industries.
Expanding Bathurst’s jail is part of the NSW Government’s $3.8 billion investment into increasing the capacity of the state’s prisons.
Mr Toole said the bigger jail, which can already cater to 650 inmates, would not only meet the demand for custodial sentences, but increase employment in the local area.
There will be an additional 64 correctional officers based in Bathurst, meanwhile the construction phase has created between 150 and 200 jobs for local contractors.
“It’s certainly a big boost to jobs,” Mr Toole said.
Bathurst Correction Centre already employs more than 200 staff across different areas, from custodial officers to psychologists.
After getting to tour the facility on Thursday, Mr Toole said he was excited to see how much had happened in such a short time, and he felt his excitement was shared by staff.
“There’s a real sense of excitement and optimism about having this facility,” he said.
“It’s good for corrections officers to see an increase in safety, it is going to be modernised, it is going to be airconditioned.
“I think they are also impressed by how much activity has gone on in the last six months. I don’t think you realise until you walk through the magnitude of this job.”