The NSW Labor government has announced its commitment to reversing the privatization of correctional facilities in the state. As part of this initiative, Junee Correctional Centre, which has been privately operated for the past 30 years, will return to public ownership. Following Junee, Parklea jail in western Sydney, another notorious privately-run prison, will also be brought back under government control.
Junee Correctional Centre, one of the largest prisons in NSW, currently houses over 1000 inmates, including more than 480 maximum security prisoners. However, it has faced numerous challenges, including significant resourcing issues that have impacted the healthcare provided to inmates. The decision to reclaim the management of this facility reflects the government’s commitment to improving the conditions and services offered within the correctional system.
The contract with GEO Group, a US multinational, for the operation of Junee prison will not be renewed after 2025. The government estimates that it will cost approximately $75 million annually to operate Junee at full capacity. By taking back control of the prison, the government aims to ensure that Corrective Services NSW becomes one of the major employers in the Riverina region, securing 340 jobs for the local community.
The decision to reverse the privatization of correctional facilities aligns with the government’s vision of providing stable, secure, and well-paid public-sector jobs. Minister for Corrections, Anoulack Chanthivong, emphasized that this move acknowledges the specific needs of the Riverina region and does not imply a one-size-fits-all approach to the rest of the corrective services system. As contracts for other privately-run facilities approach renewal, the government will carefully consider all options.
This significant shift in policy highlights the government’s commitment to improving the correctional system in NSW. By prioritizing public ownership and operation of correctional facilities, the government aims to address the challenges faced by privatized prisons and ensure better outcomes for inmates, staff, and the community.
Q: Why has the NSW government decided to reverse the privatization of prisons?
A: The government believes that reclaiming control of correctional facilities will lead to improved conditions and services within the prison system, addressing challenges such as resourcing issues and better supporting the needs of inmates.
Q: How many privately-run prisons are being reverted to public ownership?
A: Junee Correctional Centre and Parklea jail are the two prisons that will be brought back under government control. Junee is one of the largest prisons in NSW, while Parklea has a reputation for being one of the state’s most violent jails.
Q: What will happen to the staff currently working at these privately-run prisons?
A: The government has stated that staffing levels will remain the same post-transition. This move aims to secure stable, secure, and well-paid public-sector jobs for the region, ensuring continuity for frontline staff.