Section 3: Prisons

Current facilities

Bathurst Correctional Complex

The construction of Bathurst Correctional Complex begun in 1884 and was completed in 1888. At the time the gaol was constructed, it was considered to be the very best example of contemporary penal design (Grant 1992:58). When it was constructed, it incorporated all elements of the standard regimes of prison facilities built today - separate cells; association and protection yards; exercise ring; workshops; hospital ward and a market garden (Grant 1992:45).

Bathurst gaol is notorious for the major disturbances which occurred in both 1970 and 1974, which substantially contributed to the commissioning of the Nagle Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons (1978). The disturbances in 1974 saw the complete destruction of the prison by fire. This was following the five separate attempts to burn down the facility since December 1966 (Ramsland 1996:315). Nagle drew significant attention to the institutionalised brutality and poor conditions that had been endured by prisoners at the facility throughout this period.
Today the facility is a minimum to medium facility for both males. It serves as a reception centre for prisoners in western NSW.

Berrima Correctional Complex

Berrima Correctional Complex is the oldest operating gaol in Australia. The facility was completed in October 1839 (Ramsland 1996:94), and was based on a radical design which was favoured in that period (p. 297). Throughout the 19th Century, Berrima Gaol carried a feeling of foreboding, with the most hardened criminals in the system sent there throughout that era. It was considered the ‘Siberia' of the NSW prison system, where “sensory deprivation and corporal punishment could be expected in an atmosphere of penal totalitarianism” (Ramsland 1996:120.

Throughout World War I the Berrima site was used as an internment camp for enemy and prisoners of war (Ramsland 1996:301). For the next 20 years following WWI, the site was closed and used as a historical monument, until WWII where it was used as a depot and store. A large part of the gaol was destroyed following a fire in 1942.

In 1944 it was decided by the NSW Government that the site would be remodelled to be used as a prison facility once more. It reopened to house prisoners in November 1949 (Ramsland p.302), and its name was changed to Berrima Training Centre, to emphasise the notion of rehabilitating criminals through training (PG 302.)

Today the facility is used as a medium security facility for women.

Brewarrina (Yettta Dhinnakkal) Centre

In May 2000 the Yetta Dhinnakkal Centre opened as a minimum security institution for Aboriginal males, as a part of the Government's response to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (Corrective Services Website). The centre was the first prison in Australia to be a facility primarily for Aborigines, and inmates are guided by Aboriginal tribal elders. The facility accommodates up to 70 young offenders including a 10,500 hectare former sheep farm, designed to keep aboriginal youth separated from the more harsh prisoners and prevent recidivism. Recidivism rates since the Yetta Dhinnakkal centre commenced is approximately 20%, compared with 40% recidivism rates experienced across the rest of NSW (Pearlman 2004).

Broken Hill Correctional Centre

Broken Hill Correctional Centre is currently a minimum and medium security institution for both males and females. A large proportion of its inmates are from areas surrounding the Queensland border in the north, Victoria in the south and South Australia in the west (Department of Corrective Services 2009).

Cessnock Correctional Centre

Cessnock Correctional Centre was completed in 1972 in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, north of Sydney. It was originally named ‘Cessnock Training Centre' and the word ‘prison' was not used. The design of the facility incorporated a new style of prisoner management, focusing on a normalised environment with modern workshops, contact with the community and officer participation in programs (Grant 1992:149).  The facility was used to house maximum and medium security prisoners, but was later reclassified to cater only for medium security prisoners (Ramsland 1996:314).

Today the facility is named Cessnock Correctional Centre and caters for males classified to a minimum and maximum security setting. An additional 250 beds are currently being added to the centre, with expected completion date in 2011 (Department of Corrective Services website).

Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre

The Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre is separately based near the Parklea Correctional Complex, and received its first participants on 4 September 2006. The site houses up to 70 participants who have been sentenced to a Compulsory Drug Treatment Order by the Drug Court in Parramatta, and is for male participants who have repeatedly offended in order to support their drug addiction. The facility is an interagency endeavour between the Department of Corrective Services, Justice Health and the Attorney General's Department.

Cooma Correctional Centre

Construction of the Cooma Correctional Centre commenced in 1870 and begun operation on 1 November 1983. The facility contained 31 cells. In 1876 it was reduced to a Police Gaol and later a temporary Lunatic Asylum in 1877. The Centre closed temporarily in the early 1900s. (Department of Corrective Services website 2009)

The Gaol was remodelled and officially reopened on 8 March 1957 (Ramsland 1996:310. It was again closed 10 July 1998, but was reopened in November 2001 to cope with the State's soaring prison population (Mitchell 2001).

Currently the Centre is a minimum and medium security institution, and includes the Department of Corrective Services museum onsite.

Dillwynia Correctional Centre

Dillwynia Correctional Centre was opened as the first purpose built female correctional facility in New South Wales in 2004 and was specially constructed to meet the needs and demands of the increasing female population. The proposal to build Dillwynia had prompted great outcry from women's organisations and led to the Legislative Council inquiry ‘The Select Committee on the Increase in Prisoner Population.'

Today Dillwynia Correction Centre is a medium security institution for females in South Windsor, and is a part of the John Morony Correctional Complex.

Emu Plains Correctional Centre

The site at Emu Plains was first established in December 1914 as the Emu Plains Prison Farm on the banks of the Nepean River, 35km from Sydney (Ramsland 1996:214). There was originally links between Goulburn and Emu Plans as apart of a process of rehabilitation through farming.

Remodelling of the Emu Plains Training Centre was completed in 1957 (Ramsland 1996:220). In 1976 the Emu Plains Detention Centre was established within the Emu Plains Training Centre (Ramsland 1996:221).

Currently the facility is a minimum security institution for women, following the Department of Corrective Services Women's Action Plan (implemented in 1994). Women took over the complete operation of the industries at Emu Plains that had previously been run by male inmates, which included dairy. Specialised accommodation was also constructed for 56 female inmates and their children. (Ramsland 1996:336).

Glen Innes Correctional Centre

The Mount Mitchell Afforestation Camp was established on 15 August 1928 approximately 26 miles from Glen Innes in the Northern Tablelands of NSW. The facility has also been known as Glen Innes Afforestation camp, and Glen Innes Correctional Centre.

Until 1950 the site was used only for trustworthy, honest prisoners (Ramsland 1996:227). In 1966 the site was expanded with an additional 35 huts added to the facility. By the mid-1970s, the site accommodated 95 prisoners.

Today the facility is a minimum security institution for males (Department of Corrective Services 2009).

Goulburn Correctional Centre

Construction of the Goulburn Correctional Centre begun in 1880 in the Southern Highlands of NSW and was completed in 1894 (Grant 1992:45).  The facility has also been known as the Goulburn Training Centre (1949-1950), Goulburn Reformatory and Goulburn Gaol (Ramsland 305).

Currently the facility is classified as maximum security for males. In 2001 the High Risk Management Unit (HRMU, also referred to by inmates as HARM-U) opened at Goulburn Correctional Centre, and was Australia's first Supermax prison. The facility is the most secure prison within the NSW correctional system, and the inmates are subject to very strict daily regimes, and under intense scrutiny by security (NSW Ombudsman 2008). Goulburn HRMU has received similar complaints by prisoners as were commented about Katingal, including the lack of natural light and fresh air; access to legal books; the use of isolation and solitary confinement; limited and enclosed exercise; mutilation and harsh treatment (Brown 2003:171; Brown 2004:139). The NSW Ombudsman's report in 2008 explained that there is “no doubt… that the HRMU does not provide a therapeutic environment for these inmates” (NSW Ombudsman 2008:128).

Grafton Correctional Centre

Grafton was opened in 1892 (Ramsland 1996:267)
The intractable section within Grafton began in 1942. It was felt that specialised treatment would put an end to the deviance and delinquent behaviour of the systems most hardened criminals (Ramsland 1996:267). Throughout this period, prisoners received brutal treatment by prison officers, including a ‘reception biff' on arrival to the facility. The inhumane conditions within the intractable section at Grafton Gaol later came under the scrutiny of Justice Nagle in the Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons (1978).
Today the facility is used as a minimum to medium security facility, housing both males and females. The facility is used to accommodate sentenced offenders and as a reception prison for northern NSW (Department of Corrective Services 2009).

Ivanhoe (Warakirri) Centre

The Ivanhoe Warakirri Centre is classified as a minimum security centre catering for male inmates only, located in far western NSW near Hay. The facility has accommodation for 55 inmates, where the majority of the population is Aboriginal (Department of Corrective Services website 2009).

John Morony Correctional Centre (South Windsor)

The John Morony Correctional Complex is located in South Windsor. The Complex includes both the John Morony I and John Morony II Correctional Centres, which are maximum and minimum security institutions for males. The facility also includes Dillwynia Correctional Centre which is a medium security facility for females. (Department of Corrective Services 2009).

Junee Correctional Centre

Junee Correctional Centre was opened as a medium/minimum security for males in 1994, and was the first correctional centre facility in Australia to be privately run. The GEO Group Inc designed, constructed and current manages the prison under a single contractual arrangement with the NSW Department of Corrective Services.

Kariong Juvenile Justice Centre

Opened on 16 September 1991, the Kariong Juvenile Justice Centre was designed to be the most secure of the State's juvenile justice facilities, and was to accommodate offenders over the age of 16 years whose offences were considered to be of the most serious nature and unable to be managed at other centres. This facility was opened to replace Endeavour House in Tamworth.

Kirkconnell Correctional Centre (Bathurst)

This facility was opened on July 1961 as the Kirkconnell Afforestation Camp, located within the Sunny Corner State Forest in the Central West of NSW. The facility provided accommodation for 79 prisoners (Ramsland 1996:228)

Currently Kirkconnell Correctional Centre is a minimum security institution for males (Department of Corrective Services 2009).

Long Bay Correctional Complex

In 1898 the construction of Long Bay began and was finally completed on 1 June 1914. The facilities comprising the complex replaced Darlinghurst Gaol, particularly when the Women's Reformatory and the State Penitentiary opened within the Long Bay facility.

In the late 1990s the facility was redeveloped to offer special treatment units which offer programs for sex offenders; those with intellectual disabilities; drug and alcohol abuse; or the use of violence (Ramsland 1996:336). Currently the Long Bay Correctional Complex has 3 complexes, including the Long Bay Hospital, the Metropolitan Special Programs Centre and the Special Purpose Centre (Department of Corrective Services 2009).

Long Bay Hospital

The Long Bay Hospital received its first patients in 1987. The facility includes 2 hospital areas, both maximum securities. Hospital Area 1 has a capacity for 130 inmates throughout four wards which cater for medical cases and both short and long term psychiatric needs. The facility is jointly administered by the NSW Department of Corrective Services and the NSW Department of Health. The Hospital Area 2 (formerly the Metropolitan Remand Centre) is currently being used to hold inmates discharged from Long Bay Hospital or inmates awaiting medical appointments. (Department of Corrective Services 2009).

Mannus Correctional Complex (Tumbarumba)

Manus Correctional Complex was originally opened in 1927 as an afforestation camp for minimum security inmates. Set in the heart of the Tumbarumba pine forests, the facility was home to a variety of criminals going through their final rehabilitation stage of their sentence (Ramsland 1996:228).
Currently the facility used by 164 males as a minimum security institution. A periodic detention centre is also operational nearby for both males and females, where detainees are employed on community projects on weekends (Department of Corrective Services 2009)
Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre (MRRC)

With the capacity to house 900 inmates, the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre opened in 1997 as a part of the Silverwater complex and is the single largest correctional centre in Australia.

Mid North Coast Correctional Centre (Kempsey)

The Mid North Coast Correctional Centre, otherwise known as Kempsey Correctional Centre is a multiclassification facility with a capacity of 500 male and female offenders. The facility has a mothers and babies section. (Department of Corrective Services 2009).

Nowra (South Coast Correctional Centre)

Due to open in 2010, the Nowra will contain 600 beds as apart of a 1,000 bed expansion of the NSW prison system (Department of Corrective Services 2009).

Oberon Correctional Centre

Oberon Correctional Centre is a minimum security institution for young male    offenders situated 235km west of Sydney. The Gurnang Life Challenge programme has been part of the Department's Young Offenders strategy since 1993.

Parklea Correctional Centre

Following the recommendations of the Nagle Royal Commission, Parklea Correctional Centre was opened as a maximum security facility. Without compromising security, the design of the prison provided an environment for both prisoners and officers (Grant 1992:67). The prison was scheduled to open in October 1983, but following the Rex Jackson scandal, the opening did not take place until September 1985 (Blake 1988:19). The prison houses approximately 200 inmates.

In 1992 the centre was designated as a facility for young offenders following the successful completion of a pilot study. In 1993, Parklea changed to a remand and reception centre. In 1994, the Works Release Centre was opened outside the perimeter walls of the main facility, which was adequate for 88 inmates. In 2001, Parklea following the upgrades to the facility, Parklea Correctional Centre was reclassified as a maximum security facility. Expansions to the complex in 2003 extended the capacity of the facility by 222 inmates in Area 5. (see Department of Corrective Services 2009).

Parramatta Correctional Centre

The original facility at Parramatta was completed in June 1797, but the new complex on which Parramatta Correctional Centre currently stands was built in 1841 (Ramsland 1996).

Minister Bob Debus announced that it would be closed mid-1997 (Ramsland 1996:336), but it was re opened shortly thereafter.

Parramatta Transitional Centre

Following the recommendation from the Women's Action Plan, the Parramatta Transitional Centre was established for female inmates in 1997.

Silverwater Correctional Centre

The site at Silverwater Correctional Centre includes three main complexes, including the Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre, a maximum security facility for women; the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre (MRRC), a maximum security facility for males; and the Silverwater Correctional Centre, a minimum security facility for males.

Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre (MRRC)
With the capacity to house 900 inmates, the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre opened in 1997 and is the single largest correctional centre in Australia.

Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre (formally Mulawa)

Mulawa Training and Detention Centre opened as a women's prison in 1970 at Silverwater Correctional Centre. The old women's prison at Long Bay was then converted into Malabar training centre as a medium security prison for men.

St Heliers Correctional Centre

A minimum security institution for males situated on the outskirts of Muswellbrook, holding a maximum of 256 inmates.

Tamworth Correctional Centre

An expansive capital works program saw the Tamworth Correctional Centre opened in 1991/1992 (Ramsland 1996:329).

Tabulam (Balund A)

A new facility to house indigenous offenders, planned opening in 2008.

Wellington Correctional Centre

Wellington Correctional Centre, opened in 2007, is a multi-classification regional correctional centre for males and females, and houses unsentenced offenders. The facility is meant to accommodate offenders who have been sentenced in the region or those that have family/community ties in the area. A 600 bed facility, it includes 34 separate buildings with areas provided for inmate education, employment, recreation, and includes facilities for staff and visitors.  

Closed facilities

 Darlinghurst Gaol

 Built in 1866-1872 (Grant 1992:45).

Katingal, Long Bay

Katingal was designed to replace the intractable section at Grafton Gaol (Grant 1992:149). Plans were devised in 1968, with first inmate occupants in late 1975 (Ramsland 1996). It was designed to house terrorists as well as problematic prisoners which had been identified as difficult offenders within the NSW prison system. .It was dubbed as an ‘electronic zoo' by inmates due to its electronically controlled confinement with artificial lights and air, depriving inmates from almost all contact from the outside world.

The facility became to be the centre of much, mainly critical media attention, and was heavily criticised by Justice Nagle in the Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons (1978), who recommended its immediate closure

On 17 March 1989 Michael Yabsley announced that Katingal would be reopened as a correctional facility. When it was realised that the redevelopment of the site would cost double the $8 million allocated, plans were put on hold until a feasibility study was completed on the entire Long Bay prison complex. The reopening of Katingal was not heard about thereafter.

The demolition of Katingal began in March 2006. The space was used to build a new storage facility on the Long Bay site.

Maitland Prison

Closed in mid 1997 (Ramsland pg 336)

Norma Parker Correctional Centre

A new women's prison opened named the Norma Parker Centre. It was opened as a low-security institution, housing approximately 40 inmates (Blake 1988:19).

Closed in mid-1997