Editorial | Do we want another prison near the city?

The proposal for an additional jail near Goulburn has certainly raised a lot of interest, going by the 50-plus comments on the Goulburn Post Facebook page for the story.

The proposal to build the new jail sounds good for the city in theory.

But the plans did not pass the first hurdle, with the State Government advising the developer they would prefer a new jail be built within two hours of Sydney’s central courts. 

Given modern technology and the use of audio-visual linkages in most courthouses, this reason to knock it back sounds absurd. It makes you question whether there is another agenda in knocking it back. A political agenda, but what exactly?  

Since when have jails had to be located in Sydney? They have been built in towns across the state since the 1820s. The earliest Goulburn Gaol was built in 1847; the present one in 1885.

There are two sides to every story, as our readers routinely point out on the new ‘litmus test' for everything – Facebook. 

On one side, the economic spin-offs of such a development would be enormous for the city and this is why the project has the support of Goulburn Mulwaree Council.

The city also has a major courthouse, with full facilities for audio-visual links to other jails for inmates to appear. So Goulburn has a lot of court, police and corrective services infrastructure already in place that would support the creation of another jail here.

The other side is that of residents saying on social media that they don’t want another jail here and that they don’t really want to be in a city known as “a prison town”.

Some on social media say Goulburn “has enough” inmates already. Others complain it would cause house prices to rise and lead to a lot of “fly in, fly out” workers. This brief precis does not do justice to the many concerns raised on our Facebook page, so have a look for yourself. 

So what is going to happen? The developers have told the Goulburn Post they are not going to go away; that they will lodge the plans again. 

The need for new jails is highlighted in the 2016 Department of Justice report, Full House. This report said the inmate population had risen to 11,022, but the available bed space was 10,960; so there is overcrowding in the state’s jails and a need for more to be built. 

But do we want another one here? Most Goulburnians seem to say “no”.