LEARNING real life skills is vital in reducing the chance of an inmate offending, Lithgow Correctional Officers say.
The second annual National Corrections Day was held on Friday, January 18 with staff at Lithgow jail highlighting the wide range of roles available to inmates
Lithgow Correctional Centre Governor Mick Dudley said this year's theme of 'Working Corrections' showcased the valuable role of prison industries and community-service work in rehabilitating offenders and giving back to the community.
“Here at Lithgow we have 300 inmates employed, with 90 in textiles and 45 in furniture,” he said.
“We have a furniture and textile shop at the Lithgow Correction facility, where we distribute to private industries, government agencies and have over $1 million sales per year.”
The group creates a range of products including inmate clothing for the states jails around the state, along with linen and pillow cases across NSW and a line of linen for hotel chains.
They also work on headsets for Qantas pilots and refurbish them before being sent out again.
“Lithgow also creates and supplies inmates shoes and joggers across NSW,” Mr Dudley said.
“They all come in here and are distributed across the 39 correctional centres in NSW.”
A further 115 inmates are employed in the kitchen, hygiene, recycling and to look after the whole centre, making sure the garden is maintained.
Those who have a previous trade in plumbing or are keen can take on a trade apprenticeship.
A full time, five day a week inmate worker will receive $29.98 a week and a seven day worker can only earn up to $80.Mick Dudley
“Our goal is to rehabilitate workers with realistic work and give them core skills to find employment when they leave or get custody.
“We want them to become more re-employable which also contributes to reduced re-offending.”
The sales that the correctional centre makes from its private industries goes towards reducing the cost of running the centre, and the cost per inmate per day.
In addition to the 300 employed inmates, around 90 are either in education or another form of vocational training.
“Those who aren’t working full time can undertake training programs to prepare them for work,” Mr Dudley said.
Training programs are available in literacy or numeracy, while Certificate II and III in textiles can be completed, though no one at Lithgow has gone through the Certificate III training.
Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said National Corrections Day was a good opportunity to acknowledge and thank corrections staff for their dedication and hard work in keeping the community safe.
“Our Community Corrections officers supervise almost 10,000 offenders on court-ordered community-service work annually for more than 560 non-profit organisations,” he said.
“We also have about 650 Corrective Services Industries staff, who oversee inmates undertaking work, training and other qualifications to help reintegrate them into the community and reduce reoffending.”
Attorney General and Acting Minister for Corrections Mark Speakman said it was vital for the community to understand the important work that is being done behind the walls of prisons or the doors of Community Corrections offices.
“Each day our corrections officers go to work and have to manage some of the most difficult and dangerous offenders, while also striving to rehabilitate them through education and training to help them put their lives back on track,” he said.
“Another of the aims of prison industries, where inmates make their own clothes and prepare their own food, is to substantially reduce the cost to NSW taxpayers.”
There are about 5700 inmates employed by Corrective Services Industries in a range of trades, including engineering, manufacturing, agriculture and hospitality.
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