The Greenough Regional Prison has been expanded to hold an additional 52 prisoners.
The $4 million upgrade was officially opened today by Assisting Justice Minister Kevin Minson, who said the work was part of a program to help address high prison musters in Western Australian prisons.
The Greenough prison upgrade comprises a new 52-bed facility including a 20-bed self care style unit with its own kitchen, a prisoner programs room, a staff facility and an upgraded kitchen.
"The programs room will be used for prisoner developmental programs such as sex offender treatment, alternatives to violence and substance abuse treatment," Mr Minson said.
"Prisons can no longer have a single goal of custody and security; they must play an integral part in rehabilitating people before they go back into society and programs such as these have a major role to play in this."
Mr Minson said the prison was now capable of holding 175 standard-bed prisoners and that the increase in numbers and prison staff would have a positive effect on the community.
"Prison staff have been increased from 74 to 99, which always means a boost to the local economy," he said.
"The increase in secure cells also contributes to community safety with fewer prisoners at police lock-ups waiting for transfer to metropolitan prisons."
The Minister said the increase in prisoner accommodation would allow prisoners, who might otherwise have been placed in a metropolitan prison, to be located near friends and relatives.
"A proven link exists between family support and successful release into the community," he said.
"This not only assists in prisoner management but allows the local community support networks to be actively involved in the rehabilitative process both pre and post-release.
"Placement nearer to families also meets an important objective of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody."
An average of 76 per cent of Greenough's prisoner population is Aboriginal.
Mr Minson said the Greenough prison upgrade was part of several capital works expansion projects at regional prisons to reduce the high muster over the short term.
Other work included:
· the 56-bed upgrade at Roebourne Regional Prison, which had recently been completed and commissioned;
· a 20-bed expansion at the Bunbury Regional Prison which was nearing completion; and -
· a proposed 60-bed expansion at the Eastern Goldfields Prison which was being held back due to Native Title claims.
To meet its current needs, the Ministry of Justice had begun a recruitment drive which would see an increase of 100 prison officers over the next 12 months.
"An independent review is also being undertaken by the Ministry of Justice to establish whether more regional or metropolitan prison beds are required, where they are best placed and at what security rating," Mr Minson said.
The Minister congratulated local builder, Geraldton Building Company, which undertook the Greenough prison upgrade.
Media contact: Caroline Lacy 222 9211