A $1 million upgrade of security at the South Coast Correctional Centre at South Nowra will allow the prison to hold more medium security offenders.
The significant security upgrades will see the prison, which currently houses minimum, medium and maximum security prisoners, change from a minimum to a medium security facility.
The work on the South Nowra jail is part of a $20 million security overhaul of NSW prisons by the state government.
The work will see the installation of a second perimeter fence, new anti-climb barrel top fencing, fence alarms, a motion detection system and thermal detection cameras.
Attorney General and Minister for Justice Brad Hazzard said the upgrade would deliver strong new barriers against escapes and contraband smuggling.
As well as ensuring prisoners can’t escape, many of the new upgrades are also designed to stop people from throwing contraband over fences into the prison grounds.
At present the South Nowra centre has one fence, with the second perimeter fence to add a “sterile zone” between the inside and outside of the prison.
Some of the new measures, including the motion detection cameras and thermal detection cameras had their origins for military use, and have been adapted to be used in civilian life as well.
Thermal detection cameras on jail perimeters allow staff to see anyone or anything approach fences on either side.
It also means the area doesn’t have to be constantly lit at night, which can prove difficult, especially at large regional prisons such as the South Coast Correctional Centre.
The thermal cameras detect any body temperature over zero degrees, and don’t require lighting for images to be captured.
Jail staff can easily see figures at a distance and can make out if it is wildlife or human by their movements.
The jail was opened in 2010. Minimum security prisoner Peter McClelland broke out in October 2011 while in the store area, while Joshua Duke escaped from the centre on June 8, 2013 and was on the run for 19 days before being arrested at an address in Robinia Way, Worrigee.
In March this year he was sentenced to 12 months jail for the escape and is currently in the Goulburn Correctional Centre.
The South Coast Correctional Centre generally houses about 550 maximum, medium and minimum-security inmates, which is below its maximum operating capacity.
The upgrade of the centre’s minimum-security section to medium security will be completed within the three-year time frame of security works around the state and will allow the centre to house more medium-security inmates.
The centre also has an area that houses a small number of women.
These women are not long-term inmates at South Coast – they are relocated elsewhere in the correctional system within about a week of their arrival.