The first of 60 inmates to be housed at a new minimum security prison at Unanderra will begin arriving from next week. A marching band and ministerial visit signaled the opening of the Illawarra Reintegration Centre on Friday.
The centre is being touted as the first of its kind, with a greater than usual focus on programs that will prepare inmates for life after prison.
Faith Slatcher, manager security, said inmates would have cleared multiple risk assessments before taking up a cell at the centre, which sits on an elevated four acre site off Lady Penrhyn Drive, formerly the home of Wollongong Community Offender Support Program centre.
“Every inmate here will have some type of employment,” Ms Slatcher said. “Some will be out doing community projects, beautifying areas in the local community.” Others will work on ground maintenance within the prison’s gates. A select few will graduate to paid jobs in the community, with ankle bracelets allowing corrections officers to monitor their whereabouts remotely.
Correction’s minister David Elliott said the facility was one of 13 being planned, refurbished or newly built to take pressure off the state’s overcrowded prisons.
“We’ve made no secret of the fact that the prison population in NSW is at capacity,” he said, adding this was a result of effective policing, tougher bail laws and a reflection of community attitudes.