18 October 2018

Alexander Maconochie Centre bursting at the seams as centre nears max capacity

| Lachlan Roberts
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Alexander Maconochie Centre

A swelling prison population has forced the ACT Government to consider another upgrade to the Alexander Maconochie Centre. File Photo

Alexander Maconochie Centre is bursting at the seams, as a spike in inmates takes the jail’s detainee population to record levels according to the ACT Government’s Justice and Community Safety (JACS) Directorate 2017/2018 Annual Report.

According to the report, on 19 and 25 June this year, a total of 507 prisoners were locked up at Alexander Maconochie Centre, just four inmates shy of capacity.

The jail’s average daily population has risen by more than a hundred in the past four years, with 445 inmates in 2016-17 and growing to 474 in 2017-18, which is due to a significant increase in the number of male detainees, as well as rising numbers of re-offenders.

The average daily number of sentenced male detainees rose to 275 in 2017/18, up from 222 in 2014 and the report revealed there was an average of 146 male inmates awaiting sentencing in the prison every day, up from 91 five years ago.

The annual report also showed a six per cent increase in re-offending rates in the ACT in 2017/18, with more than 44 per cent of detainees returning to prison within two years of their release.

Late last year, the number of female detainees also increased beyond the capacity of the Women’s Cottages, causing them to be relocated to the Special Care Centre (SCC).

Despite several measures to tackle the issue of overcrowding, the report showed that the prison continues to be stretched to its capacity, with the rising detainee population forcing the ACT Government to consider another upgrade to the jail.

The government commissioned a study late last year to identify, prioritise and inform future correctional requirements and possible redevelopments of the centre in a staged, cost-effective manner.

The annual report said the study was completed earlier this year but is still being considered by the ACT Government, while the ACT Corrective Services is continuing to look at various strategies to address the increasing detainee population in consultation with Government.

The reports also said there is a possibility of installing additional beds across the centre with a number of areas being identified.

The JACS Annual Report is available here.

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