Emma Pritchard, Clarence Valley Independent
A quiet gaol is a good gaol according to Glen Scholes, General Manager of the Clarence Correctional Centre.
And at the recent Grafton Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting on May 19, that’s exactly how he described the largest prison in Australia. Mr Scholes revealed the 1700 bed state-of-the-art facility is currently housing just under 1100 inmates with 149 females and 750 males.
There are also 140 prisoners being held in minimum security. Mr Scholes said the Clarence Correctional Centre presently employs 540 staff, adding thirty five percent of employees live in Grafton, while around thirty percent commute from the Lower Clarence and Coffs Coast region.
Mr Scholes also revealed the Clarence Correctional Centre is running at “about 30 percent procurement” in the local community, and he spoke encouragingly to the Grafton Chamber of Commerce, asking “if you have consortiums, the capacity to join forces is there, to create further opportunities for local people.”
“The more local procurement we can have, the happier we are because we do want to support Grafton,” he said. Mr Scholes also said the number of Clarence Correctional Centre inmates who present to Grafton Base Hospital for medical treatment is “less than what it was for the Old Grafton Gaol,” adding the local community “is not being impacted.”
“Essentially, we’re making sure we’re self-sufficient and we have also welcomed a new Health Services Manager,” he said. Mr Scholes also addressed previous concerns regarding the number of inmates who remain in the local area following their release. He said a recent survey he conducted surrounding inmates who had been released from the Clarence Correctional Centre revealed 31 remained in the Clarence Valley and 35 had left the area.
Towards the end of the breakfast meeting, Mr Scholes also revealed a majority of the inmates who remained in the area had chosen against returning to their original place of origin to avoid seeing and interacting with friends and family members who were involved in criminal activities.
“It is good to know a lot of inmates who have been released back into the community are not associating with family and people who have been in gaol,” he said.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 2 June 2021.