The McGowan Labor Government has begun construction on four new prison units, which will help address overcrowded prisons inherited from the previous government.
The four new units at Casuarina Prison will bring 512 beds on-line and are budgeted to cost $96.3 million.
When combined with a new 160-bed unit at Bunbury Regional Prison, the recommissioning of a closed unit at the prison, and cell modifications throughout the prison estate, there is expected to be nearly 900 new beds by early 2020.
Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan today turned the sod at the Casuarina site to mark where two new units, housing 256 beds in each, will be built by local Perth company Broad Construction. The two new units are expected to be complete by the end of 2019
One of the remaining two units, which are expected to be ready by early 2020, will include a new approach to tackling the scourge of methamphetamine with a dedicated alcohol and other drug treatment facility for men.
On completion of the drug and alcohol program, the male offenders will return to their units and serve the remainder of their sentences.
Upon release from prison, offenders will be transitioned to other programs to continue their efforts to break the cycle of drug addiction and crime.
A women’s treatment prison has been in operation for nearly six months.
As noted by Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan:
“We came into office with a prison estate that was in crisis because of the overcrowding mess that was simply left to fester under the previous Liberal National Government.
“It should never have been a matter of simply placing more people into cells and forgetting about them.
“The overcrowding had a knock-on effect to everything throughout WA’s prisons from the kitchens, sewerage systems and video link facilities to the availability of rehabilitative and reintegration programs.
“By building four new units on the existing Casuarina prison footprint, we can get new beds up and running in a fraction of the time and cost it would take to build a new prison.
“The Liberal National Government claimed it had money for a new prison and it simply did not.
“Even if it had, it would take five years and up to $1.5 billion to build which is currently unaffordable and frankly would be too late.
“We had to act immediately and I am pleased that we are now breaking ground on units that will not only address the overcrowding, but also provide an innovative approach to tackling the devastating impacts of methamphetamine that often leads to a revolving door of criminal offending.
“The Casuarina bed expansion project is set to benefit local businesses, including suppliers, tradies and subcontractors, ensuring we continue to put Western Australians first where possible.”