Alexander Maconochie Centre

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Alexander Maconochie Centre
ACT gaol.jpg
Aerial view of the Alexander Maconochie Centre
Location Hume, Australian Capital Territory
Coordinates 35°22′15″S 149°10′18″E / 35.370943°S 149.171805°E / -35.370943; 149.171805Coordinates: 35°22′15″S 149°10′18″E / 35.370943°S 149.171805°E / -35.370943; 149.171805
Status Operational
Security class Minimum to maximum / Remand / Male and female
Capacity 300[1]
Population 235 (as of December 2011[2])
Opened 11 September 2008
Managed by ACT Corrective Services

The Alexander Maconochie Centre, an Australian minimum to maximum security prison and remand centre for male and female inmates, is located in Hume, Australian Capital Territory. The facility is operated by ACT Corrective Services, an agency of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate of the Government of Australian Capital Territory. The facility accepts felons charged under Territory and/or Commonwealth legislation pending legal proceedings; and also detains convicted felons who are sentenced to full-time imprisonment.

The centre is named in honour of penal reformer Alexander Maconochie, who worked in Van Diemen’s Land and Norfolk Island from 1836 to 1844,[3] and is the Territory's first prison.

History[edit]

Prior to 2008, correctional services for felons convicted in the Territory under ACT or Commonwealth legislation were managed by Corrective Services NSW on behalf of the Territory and/or Commonwealth governments. In 2004, in spite of localised opposition,[4][5] a decision was made to locate the new prison, a first for the ACT, in Hume. The Centre was officially opened on 11 September 2008 by the Chief Minister of the ACT, Jon Stanhope. and constructed at a cost of A$130 million.[6] The first prisoners were accepted on 30 March 2009.[7]

Controversy[edit]

The Alexander Maconochie Centre has been the subject of controversy during its planning, construction, and period immediately post opening.[citation needed] A chief criticism related to the facility's large initial cost estimates and even larger final price tag. On 21 January 2009 the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety of the ACT Government resolved that it would inquire into and report on the circumstances surrounding the delay in the commencement of operations of the Centre, the cost of delays to the ACT Government, as well as the impact of delays, if any, on the delivery of corrective services.[8] At the same time, there was confusion between the ACT and the NSW Governments about willingness and ability of Corrective Services NSW to continue to accept ACT prisoners, due to overcrowding in NSW facilities:[9]

The cessation of transfers of prisoners to NSW was never satisfactorily explained.... The cessation of transfers of prisoners to NSW in December 2008 added to the pressure on ACT remand facilities and contributed further to their failure to be human rights compliant.

The central argument by proponents of the facility was that the facility would save the ACT millions of dollars every year because it would not have to pay for prisoners to be held in New South Wales-operated prisons. Based on the current cost of approximately A$60,000 per year (per prisoner) that it costs for the ACT to send prisoners interstate, the centre was to pay for itself in fifteen years. However, an increase in the costs of construction and operation of the prison will no doubt mean that the facility will take longer to pay for itself. The other major controversy was a doubt over whether or not the ACT, with a population of just over 320,000, actually needs its own prison. Based on the assumption that the prison would be in operation in early 2007, it would only be 25% utilised. Given the expense of staff and operating the prison, some doubted whether it would be any cheaper than the former prison agreement with the New South Wales government.[citation needed]

In January 2010 it was reported that the average cost of housing an inmate in the Alexander Maconochie Centre is A$504 per day, more than double the amount the New South Wales Government charged the ACT Government for housing inmates before the Centre opened.[10]

Facilities[edit]

The centre was designed as a multi-role facility that replaced the Belconnen Remand Centre and provides full-time detention facilities so that prisoners who would previously have been held in New South Wales correctional facilities may be held locally. Accommodation includes cell-blocks, domestic style cottages, a medical centre and crisis support unit, a 14 bed management unit and a transitional release centre. Male, female, remand and sentenced detainees from low to high security classifications are accommodated.[1] The idea is to reform prisoners, so that they can return to a normal life after their sentence is over.

It is the first prison in Australia that was purpose built to meet human rights obligations.[6] The Centre was designed with environmental principles in mind and includes initiatives such as below ground fresh water storage, grey water recycling for toilet flushing and irrigation, solar hot water and high grade building insulation. The prison can hold 300 prisoners. It is organised as a campus, with accommodation cottages around a town square that contains common facilities. There is a health building, admissions building, education building, a library and a visiting centre. The prisoners are expected to construct their own gymnasium. It is located on the Monaro Highway in Hume.[1]

Notable prisoners[edit]

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Alexander Maconochie Centre". ACT Corrective Services. Australian Capital Territory: Justice and Community Safety Directorate. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Pink, Brian (Australian Statistician) (December 2011). Corrective Services: Australia (PDF). 4512.0. Commonwealth of Australia: Australian Bureau of Statistics. p. 10. 1440.5997. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Biography of Alexander Maconochie". ACT Corrective Services. Australian Capital Territory: Justice and Community Safety Directorate. 14 September 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Early, Kirsten (13 February 2004). "Prison Rumpus" (transcript). Stateline (Australia: ABCTV). Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Gaind, Rama (19 February 2004). "No prison in our backyard". The Queanbeyan Age. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "New ACT jail awaits inmates". ABC News (Australia). 12 September 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Inquiry into the delay in the commencement of operations at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. p. 23. 
  8. ^ Inquiry into the delay in the commencement of operations at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. p. ii. 
  9. ^ Inquiry into the delay in the commencement of operations at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. pp. 29–30. 
  10. ^ "Prisoner cost blow-out: Opposition". 666 ABC Canberra (Australia). 27 January 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  11. ^ Kent, Paul (28 May 2009). "Killer of police commissioner finally extradited to the ACT". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). Retrieved 28 May 2009. 

External links[edit]