HUNDREDS of maximum security inmates walk side-by-side with Macquarie Correctional Centre officers each day, working to prevent re-offending when they're released.
As part of National Corrections Day, the Daily Liberal went inside the Macquarie Correctional Centre at Wellington to see how they're working toward reducing re-offending.
Celebrated on January 15, this year's theme is 'Working together to reduce re-offending', which focuses on the ways Corrective Service NSW staff are assisting offenders through programs, education, promoting a good workplace culture and positive interactions.
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Macquarie Correctional Centre opened in December 2017 and represents a new approach to the design of maximum security prisons in Australia.
The 400-bed maximum security prison is famous for its no-cell approach and uses innovative and unique techniques to build respect between staff and inmates, and ultimately reduce re-offending.
Inmates at the centre are either handpicked, or in some instances, volunteer to be housed within the facility.
When they arrive they are assigned to their own cubicle within an open-plan 25 bed dormitory.
Correctional officers observe multiple dormitories from an upper tier, ensuring safety and security are not compromised.
Each dormitory has its own showers, toilets, kitchenette, a telephone and yard.
Inside each cubicle inmates have heir own bed, desk and interactive television that they can use to watch or plan their education.
Because there are no cells, the inmates' days are carefully structured with mandatory participation in education, employment, programs or some form of therapeutic activity.
Everything in the prison - from the dormitory-style accommodation to the inmates' day - is designed to maximise inmate participation.
We really do expect people to have a go at rehabilitating themselves.Macquarie Correctional Centre Governor Brad Peebles
The correctional facility helps inmates to gain qualifications and experience in a variety of areas from business, hospitality, plumbing, building and horticulture. The prison also offers traineeships that run through to the apprenticeship level.
It is also the only maximum security prison in NSW to have a metal workshop, which allows inmates to use power tools and machinery.
The inmates are trained and authorised to use power tools such as drills, circular saws and other potentially dangerous equipment, but prison officials say they are closely supervised, the tools are counted twice a day and the workers are thoroughly searched after they finish each afternoon.
Macquarie Correctional Centre Governor Brad Peebles said this community management model helps inmates gain a sense of self-responsibility.
"The idea is inmates should be free to better themselves and to leave here in better condition than they came in," he said.
"It's about reducing re-offending, we don't want to send people home who will re-offend and create more victims, we want to send people home who can be conventional citizens when they get out in the community."
He said the entire management program at Macquarie is based on privileged, participation and cooperation rather than punitive measures, and that the work programs were designed to give inmates skills and build their confidence so they could contribute to society when released.
"Regulations allow for punitive measures as well, but we find that we very rarely use them because the inmates have a lot of privilege and a lot is expected in return," he said.
"We really do expect people to have a go at rehabilitating themselves," Mr Peebles said.
"All of the inmates in here appreciate what they've got, they understand that they do have a lot of privilege and are willing to modify their behaviour to meet those needs, and that's what it's all about in the end."
Mr Peebles said the maximum security facility was reaching key performance indicators that you'd expect in an open minimum security, which he was was "gratifying".
"We've achieved some really good benefits from this management model in terms of reducing violence, which is nearly at zero levels here," he said.
"We've also done a lot of work with the culture and that's the culture between inmates themselves, but also in terms of culture of how staff interact with inmates in here.
"It's very positive and any of the inmates themselves will tell you they're very happy to be at this centre rather than a traditionally managed one."
Mr Peebles said it's been rewarding to implement innovative programs that encourage rehabilitation and reduce re-offending, rather than dealing with purely security-related issues.
"It's really great the guys we've got living here appreciating some of the things that we're doing for them, but also really paying back to the community by improving themselves, by looking after their families," he said.
"Seeing the attitudes change in people, from often really negative attitudes to really positive attitudes, it's quite comforting not just for me, but all the staff we are actually achieving some really good goals."