Prison expansion works to ramp up in new year

WORK on the $80 million Fulham Prison extension is expected to ramp up in the new year, with the management unit, accommodation unit and associated activities hub expected to be fully operational by mid-2020.

In July, the state government announced Fulham Correctional Centre would be expanded with a new 102-bed accommodation unit and a 35-bed management unit.

Design planning for the units has been underway for some time, and building began in mid-November with site establishment works.

Additional upgrade work to the prisoner shop, a movement control station, TAFE kitchen, medical centre, kitchen-laundry and main reception area are expected to be completed in the second half of 2020.

The prisoner population at Fulham Correctional Centre will approach 1000 after the extension is completed.

The development will include a new 102 prison bed facility, activity hub, additional visitor area and extension to the reception area.

The contractor for the project, Ireland Brown Constructions, is a Melbourne-based firm, but a GEO spokesman said negotiations with potential sub-contractors were in progress, and could involve local employers.

The extension will take the capacity of the privately-managed Hopkins Rd prison to 995, making it the third largest in Victoria.

The build is part of a push to expand prisons across the state to meet growing demands.

Last December, the state government announced it would provide money for more than 470 new beds during the next three years across the state.

According to the government, prisoner numbers have grown in recent years, driven largely by changes to the parole system, sentencing changes, extra police on the beat and a rising population.

Victoria’s prisoner population expansion comes at a hefty cost to taxpayers.

A report by the Auditor-General in March found that the annual cost to the state of managing male prisoners – who make up 92.5 per cent of the prison population – had risen 90 per cent, from $425.9 million in 2010-11 to $811.2 million in 2016-17.

Each prisoner costs the state $127,000 a year on average, the report found.