Casuarina Prison is set to become one of the largest prisons in Australia with 344 new beds to be added, bringing the total general purpose capacity to 1,782 by 2022.
Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan today announced a $186 million funding injection, as part of the 2019-20 State Budget, towards the expansion of Casuarina Prison.
The significant funding for the new beds also includes supporting infrastructure along with a $3.3 million upgrade of Casuarina’s security systems.
These new beds are in addition to 512 new beds to be housed across four new prison units at Casuarina, which are now under construction.
The short and medium-term builds form part of the staged expansion projects underpinned by the State Government’s long-term custodial infrastructure plan through to 2031.
It is the first time that there has been a proposed long-term plan for Western Australia’s prison estate for six years.
Current predictions show that if this Government had not acted, the demand for male prisoner beds would have exceeded supply by mid-2022.
Despite assurances by Opposition Leader Mike Nahan, the State’s former Treasurer, that there was money set aside for a new prison, there was only $1.2 million for a scoping study for a prison that was needed in 2015.
The current construction of the 512 beds at Casuarina is expected to be finished in two stages, with the first two units ready by the end of this year.
The remaining two units, which will include the State’s first alcohol and other drug treatment prison for men, will be in place in early 2020.
Another prison unit, costing $23.7 million, is now under construction at Bunbury Regional Prison and is expected to be completed by August 2019 bringing another 160 beds on-line.
The Casuarina expansion, including the 512-bed project and the subsequent 344-bed project and related infrastructure upgrades, will create more than 2,000 local jobs and will create significant opportunities for local businesses.
As stated by Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan:
“It was appalling mismanagement by the previous Liberal National Government that Western Australia’s prison estate had virtually no short, medium or long-term plans in place.
“The prison estate was in such a mess when I took on this portfolio that the only solution put forward was to simply put more prisoners in the same amount of cells.
“If we had not acted by using existing prison land to build in a smarter and more efficient way, then our prisons would have been over capacity in just a handful of years.
“These extra 344 beds will be in brand new units that have purpose-built cells to accommodate multiple prisoners.
“This expansion of the 344 beds comes on top of the 512 beds now under construction, and will make Casuarina Western Australia’s biggest prison and also one of its most innovative.
“Casuarina will have Western Australia’s first alcohol and other drug treatment prison for men by the middle of 2020, and there are plans to have a mental health unit as well.
“We are also looking at a variety of options for future beds including aged care and special cohorts housing.
“The McGowan Labor Government is also investing $3.3 million to upgrade the security systems at Casuarina to ensure safety and security are at the highest level possible.
“This new build of 344 beds is estimated to create hundreds of new local jobs and will include as much local content as possible, which is great news for the economy.
“By having a long-term custodial infrastructure plan in place, it not only gives the Government future options but will help guide future planning and provide a direction for bringing Western Australia’s prison estate back under control after years of neglect.”