Alexander Maconochie Centre

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Alexander Maconochie Centre
Alexander Maconochie Centre from the air December 2016.jpg
Aerial view of the Alexander Maconochie Centre
LocationHume, Australian Capital Territory
Coordinates35°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
Security classMinimum to maximum / Remand / Male and female
Population235 (as of December 2011[2])
Opened11 September 2008
Managed byACT Corrective Services

The Alexander Maconochie Centre is an Australian prison in the Australian Capital Territory, which detains maximum security, minimum security and remand inmates, both male and female. It is located in Hume, Australian Capital Territory. The facility is operated by ACT Corrective Services, an agency of the Government of the Australian Capital Territory. The facility accepts remandees charged under Territory and/or Commonwealth legislation pending legal proceedings; and also detains convicted offenders 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 (Tasmania) and Norfolk Island from 1836 to 1844,[3] and is the Territory's first prison.


Prior to 2008, correctional services for offenders 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]


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.

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]


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]

  • David Eastman[11] – spent time at the Alexander Maconochie Centre during the final part of his wrongful imprisonment for the murder of Colin Winchester, Assistant Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police.
  • Witness J, an unknown former Australian intelligence officer, was held in secret at the Alexander Maconochie Centre before his clandestine trial.[12]

See also[edit]


  • "Inquiry into the delay in the commencement of operations at the Alexander Maconochie Centre" (PDF). Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety. ACT Government. 3. November 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.


  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: 10. 1440.5997. Retrieved 1 May 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  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". Stateline. Australia: ABCTV. Archived from the original (transcript) on 10 January 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  5. ^ Gaind, Rama (19 February 2004). "No prison in our backyard". The Queanbeyan Age. Retrieved 1 May 2012.[permanent dead link]
  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": 23. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "Inquiry into the delay in the commencement of operations at the Alexander Maconochie Centre": ii. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ "Inquiry into the delay in the commencement of operations at the Alexander Maconochie Centre": 29–30. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  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.
  12. ^ "'The quiet person you pass on the street': Secret prisoner Witness J revealed - ABC News". 4 December 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2020.

External links[edit]