Fill Empty Beds at Regional Prisons Before Expanding Acacia

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has called on the Barnett Government to prioritise the opening of empty prison beds at Hakea, Bunbury and Albany Regional Prisons before spending money on the expansion of the privately run Acacia Prison.

WAPOU Secretary John Welch said the former Minister for Corrective Services’ announcement yesterday of a $90 million expansion of Acacia was welcome but it would be a better use of the funds to spend some of the money to fill prison beds already sitting empty at Hakea, Bunbury and Albany Prisons.

“I welcome the government’s re-announcement for the fourth time of the decision to spend $90 million on expanding Acacia Prison because with almost 5,000 prisoners in WA, the prison system is overflowing and many cells in the state’s jails designed for one prisoner are being shared by two.

“With recent admissions that prison cells at Albany and Bunbury prisons lie empty, before building new cells to house WA’s bulging prison population the new Minister should prioritise filling the empty beds already available in the State’s prison system.

Earlier this week Mr Welch accused the Department of Corrective Services of telling porkies after the State Government said there were older prison cells empty for renovations at Albany and Bunbury prisons when in fact the cells have already been cleaned or renovated and sitting idle in some cases for almost 18 months.

WAPOU Secretary John Welch reiterated his earlier comments that parts of the Albany and Bunbury prisons are empty because there are not enough prison officers to staff them.

“Minister Cowper would be better served putting some of the money earmarked for the expansion of Acacia Prison into hiring more prison officers so the cells lying empty in Albany and Bunbury can be used immediately to provide much needed relief to WA’s ailing prison system,” said Mr Welch.

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