Ipswich prison to be 'learn and earn' hub for convicts
FROM a life of crime to a livelihood and education to be proud of.
That is the transformation the re-opening of the Borallon Correctional Centre is designed to make in the lives of prisoners
The re-opening next year of the Ipswich prison will see 270 jobs created with the prison to house up to 492 male prisoners up to the age of 30.
But it is what is planned to go on inside the prison that most excites Corrective Services Minister Jo-Ann Miller, who confirmed the government was allocating $142.3 million over four years for the operation of the centre as well as $8.1 million this year to complete its recommissioning
Ms Miller said when the State Government re-opened the facility in 2016 it would be publicly run and boast "a Queensland first".
"The men in this centre will be there to learn and earn," Ms Miller said.
"When people go to prison sometimes they sit around all day watching TV and playing cards.
"But in Borallon they will be working in prison industries where they will get some money.
"They will also be learning in the classrooms that have been set up for them to learn reading, writing and basic concepts they need in life."
Ms Miller said only around 15% of offenders who go to prison before the age of 21 have finished Grade 12.
Due to prisoners' low level of educational attainment and history of truancy, many of them enter jail after being previously unemployed.
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As a result, Ms Miller said the government would provide avenues for the prisoners to finish their schooling so they can leave with hope for the future and a better life.
"We are looking at partnering with Education Queensland, TAFE and higher education centres so they can get themselves a job on leaving," she said.
"If a judge sends them to jail that is exactly where they will be, but while they are in there they will be working in a prison industry or maybe doing a certificate or finishing Grade 12… or both.
"We want them to come out and be job ready and hopefully get on the right path in life."
Ms Miller said a commercial kitchen had been installed so that prisoners could get hospitality qualifications.
A commercial laundry will also be built while a giant industrial shed will be utilised to provide training in a variety of fields.
"Whoever is appointed as a general manager will be working with the local community and certainly local industries to talk to them about the type of jobs available so (the prisoners) can get that training while they are in there," she said.
"This is a publicly run correctional centre and there will be 270 jobs created.
"The types of jobs on offer will be custodial officers, trade instructors, support staff for the team as well as health and medical professionals."
Queensland's prisons are stretched to breaking point with 1400 prisoners sharing cells designed to accommodate one person and the state's jails collectively operating at 112% capacity.
"Sewage and water systems are at breaking point, prison medical officers are having to work in cramped quarters and staff are telling us that it's unsafe," Ms Miller said.
Ms Miller said the re-opening at Borallon would ease those pressures and provide a better working environment for staff.