Prisoners will help the community

CORRECTIONS Minister Edward O’Donohue says the Loddon Prison extension will create jobs and further community projects.

Mr O’Donohue visited Loddon Prison, which is under construction, on Tuesday to inspect the new building and announce that it will be known as ‘Middleton’.

“Middleton takes its name from a small creek that flows into the Loddon River near Glenluce,” Mr O’Donohue said.

 “Work on the Middleton annex has already provided a boost to the economy by supporting local construction jobs.

 “It has provided a jobs boom in the region, with up to 240 workers on site during peak construction periods and more than 100 new, ongoing jobs in the Loddon precinct once the new annex opens.”

When complete, Middleton will provide accommodation for a further 236 minimum security prisoners.

Mr O’Donohue said an increase in the prisoner population in Castlemaine would benefit locals not only through job creation but also because prisoners would undertake community service.

“We want prisoners to pay their debt to the community and gain new skills,” he said.

“It’s very good for the corrections system and Castlemaine."

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said appropriately selected prisoners contributed to community projects, which “wouldn’t otherwise be possible”.

He said one example of how prisoners could help the local community was by assisting with fire recovery.

He said that in rural communities across Victoria, prisoners had mended fences and completed other forms of manual labour to assist farmers and those affected by fires.

He said such programs were mutually beneficial, benefitting the public and the individual, who gained skills and work ethic.

Corrections Victoria Commissioner Jan Shuard said 28 new recruits from the Loddon region had completed the required training to work at the prison.

“These officers will protect and uphold the security and integrity of the corrections system, while also working with offenders to make a real difference to their lives,” Ms Shuard said.

"They will draw on their life experiences and their training to manage the day-to-day operations of the prison system."

Due to be completed in the middle of 2014, the new 236-bed building is the first stage of the overall $76 million upgrade and expansion underway at Loddon.

The second stage is an upgrade to the prison's security system, due to be completed by September 2014.

Construction is running to schedule.

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