Work on the 360 bed expansion of South Coast Correctional Centre has reached the halfway point.
The minimum security section, which will comprise 200 beds, is expected to be completed by July.
The expansion will also see an extra 160 high security beds.
The beds are being created as part of the NSW Government’s $3.8 billion Prison Bed Capacity Program, announced last June.
Corrections Minister David Elliott, Parliamentary Secretary for the South Coast and Kiama MP Gareth Ward and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock visited the site on Friday to inspect progress of the new 360-bed facility.
"The NSW Government is getting on with the job of reforming the prison sector, with our record investment delivering 2,100 corrections jobs in two years," Mr Elliott said.
"We have delivered an additional 2,764 prison beds, supported by a $330 million investment in rehabilitation programs and better supervision for high-risk offenders."
However, the minister did not commit to or rule out further expansion at the South Nowra Complex.
“I’ve been so impressed about the way the community has engaged with corrections and how they have embraced Nowra,” he said.
“There is no doubt in my mind the Illawarra and South Coast is underrepresented when it comes to infrastructure in corrections and I’m keeping that in mind when I look at future planning.”
The current South Nowra expansion has created 200 jobs, including a number of locals, during construction and on its completion 90 permanent jobs.
It will take the jail’s capacity to 960.
“This isn’t an investment as parliamentarians that we like to see,” he said “we would rather fund schools and hospitals but unfortunately in society we require a modern prison system and that’s certainly what we are providing here.”
Mr Ward said the expansion was great news for the Shoalhaven community creating new jobs and those extra wages would have a positive effect on the local economy.
"This centre has always had a strong relationship with the community, so it's exciting to see this investment in the region take shape," Mr Ward said.
"An amenities building and staff car park have already been built, while work is progressing on a number of minimum-security cell blocks."
The expansion includes:
· Minimum-security cells for 200 inmates, programs and industries building;
· New 160-bed maximum security wing;
· Expansion of the visits area, clinic and car park; and
· Upgrades to existing staff and inmate accommodation facilities.
Mrs Hancock said the existing 690-bed facility employs about 200 local staff.
"The prison has played an important role in our community since it opened in 2010 and the expanded facility will ensure the safety of our region for many years to come," Mrs Hancock said.
“There were some reservations from the community when it was decided to built a jail in this region, myself included, but those concerns and reservations have now been allayed.
“The jails sits comfortably within the community and we are proud to have a jail in our community and see the benefits outweighing the disadvantages.”
Lendlease is overseeing the expansion work.