The first round of inmates will be released from the confines of the new Unanderra jail to undertake work in the community from Monday, as the government moves to prepare them for life after prison.
Parliamentary secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward will announce on Monday that inmates from the 60-bed Illawarra Reintegration Centre will begin supervised work programs in the community, including at the Killalea State Park and with the RSPCA.
“This is the first time we’ve gone through this process with inmates at this reintegration centre,” Mr Ward told the Mercury.
“It is a minimum-security facility and obviously the inmates who are chosen for this path are specifically selected as people who are ready and capable of participating in this work, and that way we can prepare them for their eventual release.”
The Lady Penrhyn Drive facility, formerly the home of the Wollongong Community Offender Support Program centre, is the first of its kind to be opened in NSW.
Mr Ward said the government was on its way to achieving its target to reduce adult re-offending by five per cent by 2019 and the Unanderra centre was about providing educational opportunities for inmates.
“We want them to have paid their debt to society but also be ready to re-enter society and make a meaningful contribution,” he said.
“I want as many people who leave prison never to come back there again.”
The work programs include carpentry at Killalea, as well as maintenance work and animal care at the RSPCA.
The Unanderra centre was one of 13 planned, refurbished or newly-built facilities to take pressure off the state’s overcrowded prisons.