Long Bay closure puts pressure on to reopen Grafton jail

PRISON workers say Grafton jail must be reopened if the NSW Government goes ahead with plans to shut down Long Bay Correctional Centre.

The Public Service Association claims government talks are underway to close the historic Sydney institution to make way for luxury apartments.

The closure would take more than 1000 beds out of an already overloaded prison system.

Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures released last week revealed the state's prison population increased 8.6% to a record 11,363 inmates between September and March.

PSA prison officers vocational branch chairman Steve McMahon said any further jail closures would tip an already dangerously-packed system over the edge.

"Not only is the Baird Government turning a blind eye to the overcrowding problem, but worse, it's ignoring the plight of prison officers with poor workers compensation who have to bear the physical brunt of stressed and angry prisoners with little to lose," he said.

Mr McMahon said many prisoners were already kept in police cells or below-standard temporary facilities.

He called on Grafton jail to be reopened to ease overcrowding in "the most violent working environment in Australia".

"100% of people prison officers deal with have the potential to be violent," Mr McMahon said. -APN NEWSDESK

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