MP back flips on Grafton jail comments

MINISTER for Corrections David Elliott has back-flipped on an earlier comment, revealing today the new Grafton corrections facility will house at least 1000 beds.

The minister has announced the NSW Government is calling for expressions of interest from the private sector to design, build and operate the facility at Pillar Valley.

When the project was first announced Mr Elliott said there were no plans to expand the new facility beyond a 600-bed capacity.

The minister has, however, announced the new jail would be increased to at least 1000 beds, with expressions of interest to include a costing option for an even larger facility on the 195-hectare site.

"We want this prison to play an important role in reducing re-offending through rehabilitation programs and helping keep the community safe, as well as reducing the burden on police and courts," he said.

Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said the new Grafton prison is one way the government is planning for an increasing inmate population.

"We are taking a long-term view at Grafton and across the system to ensure new inmate capacity is created cost efficiently while also maximising benefits to the broader community," Comm Severin said.

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said the new facility provided an economic opportunity for the Clarence Valley.

"We are determined this innovative corrective services facility will be an asset to the Northern Rivers region, fostering community involvement and providing at least 250 jobs for locals, including indigenous employment programs," Mr Gulaptis said.

Clarence Valley Council's director of environment, planning and community Des Schroder said the increased capacity could have an impact of up to 7% on the local economy.

Infrastructure NSW will host community information sessions about the new prison at Tucabia Hall on Wednesday from 1.30-2.30pm and 6.30-7.30pm.

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