Special cells built for state's ageing prisoners

GRAFTON'S new prison will be home to some of the country's worst criminals who have no prospect of ever seeing the outside of a prison complex.

When they become too infirm, custom-built jail cells in Sydney will become their homes as they see out their final years.

A parliamentary inquiry into the management of "lifers" has recommended an increase in dedicated units for aged and frail criminals bound to die behind bars.

The inquiry attracted submissions from all walks of life - victims' families, law groups and even the life-sentenced offenders were allowed a say.

One inmate, whose name was redacted from his hand-written letter, spoke of spending more than two-thirds of his life in jail.

Though the name was concealed, the crimes he describes coincide with the horrific story of two of Australia's most horrifying killers, Allan Baker and Kevin Crump.

Crump and Baker met in Grafton Jail on non-violent offences and were released on November 3, 1973.

Almost immediately, they murdered Ian Lamb as he slept in his car.

Mr Lamb was a complete stranger.

They then abducted and repeatedly raped 35-year-old Virginia Morse, tying her to trees before shooting her between the eyes.

What appears to be one of the killers is now asking for a chance to spend his final years outside of a maximum security prison.

"I'm not asking for my freedom," the submission states.

"Just to be treated like a normal prisoner and given a chance to progress to a lower classified prison where my lifestyle will be improved, and in my twilight years I can sit out in the garden and peaceably fade away.

"Instead of being in an iron cage and treated like the animal I used to be, where I will die a miserable death in a cold, windswept, overcrowded concrete yard."

The inquiry was sparked by media reports of life-term prisoners being moved to lower-security jails.

Families of victims were indignant.

However, the inquiry found conditions for "lifers" were less idyllic than media reports purported them to be.

It recommended the establishment of an opt-out victims' register to inform victims and their families about how offenders actually lived and functioned in prison.

It also suggested more efforts be made to "adequately house, manage and care for aged and frail inmates, including establishing designated units and areas in more correctional centres in New South Wales".

A spokeswoman for Corrections Minister David Elliott said there were no plans for the new Grafton Jail to have dedicated wings for frail and infirm prisoners.

"There are long-term plans for specially designed accommodation areas for aged and frail inmates in the Sydney metropolitan area," she said.

"The new Grafton facility will house a mix of minimum, medium and maximum security inmates."

The full story of how two young men transformed from non-violent offenders to some of the country's cruellest murderers may never truly come to light. -ARM NEWSDESK



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