Work a ‘sec­ond chance’ for pris­on­ers

Kalgoorlie Miner - - NEWS - Jas­mine Bam­ford

Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices Min­is­ter Joe Fran­cis has called on the min­ing and busi­ness sec­tors to em­ploy ex­pris­on­ers on the ba­sis “there’s noth­ing wrong with giv­ing some­one a sec­ond chance in life”.

Mr Fran­cis made the com­ments yesterday af­ter a tour of the Eastern Gold­fields Re­gional Prison, com­ple­tion of which has been de­layed by three months.

“The Gina Rine­harts and the An­drew For­rests get it. They are cer­tainly will­ing to train and em­ploy pris­on­ers. They’ve done a lot of vo­ca­tional train­ing pro­grams in par­tic­u­lar up in the Kim­ber­ley, but it’s not all about driv­ing trucks in mine sites. There are a lot of other things that pris­on­ers can do,” Mr Fran­cis said.

“From the feed­back I get pris­on­ers make bril­liant work­ers. They’re well-trained, they’re welld­is­ci­plined, they don’t want to go back, and cer­tainly they make the best of the sec­ond op­por­tu­nity they’re given in life.

“Across the board I think we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­cour­age the min­ing sec­tor and busi­nesses to look through that glass ceil­ing and that stigma that stopped them want­ing to em­ploy pris­on­ers.”

Mr Fran­cis toured the new fa­cil­i­ties with Trea­surer Mike Na­han, in­spect­ing visi­tors’ rooms and non-con­tact rooms, as well as a cri­sis care wing and trauma rooms.

It was the first public glimpse of the new Vi­vian Street fa­cil­i­ties, which are set to re­place the out­dated build­ings at the cur­rent prison.

The $232 mil­lion EGRP pro­ject was due for com­ple­tion mid-2015, but Mr Fran­cis con­firmed yesterday the fa­cil­ity was be­hind sched­ule. “It won’t cost the taxpayers any more be­cause of the na­ture of the con­tract to de­sign and build and main­tain this fa­cil­ity. All the risk has been taken by pri­vate sec­tor con­trac­tors,” he said.

“(The prison) will be run by the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices. The only is­sue here was it was pri­vately de­signed and some of the main­te­nance will be done pri­vately. But as far as op­er­at­ing the prison is con­cerned it will stay within the depart­ment.”

Mr Fran­cis also an­swered ques­tions on smok­ing in pris­ons, say­ing many prison of­fi­cers were di­vided on the is­sue. “I’m a for­mer smoker. For some peo­ple cold tur- key is just a bridge too far,” he said.

“We’ll have a look and see how it goes in other ju­ris­dic­tions.”

His com­ments came just hours be­fore the re­lease of a state­ment from the WA Prison Of­fi­cers’ Union, call­ing for a to­tal smok­ing ban on prison grounds across the State.

Pic­tures: Louise White

Pro­ject Man­ager Chris Quinn, Trea­surer Mike Na­han and Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices Min­is­ter Joe Fran­cis in­spect works at Eastern Gold­fields Re­gional Prison.

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