Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Mystique of the Alexander Maconochie Centre

The Mystique of the Alexander Maconochie Centre

By Satsuki Ranjou
Spirit News
October 13, 2073

The Alexander Maconochie Centre, an Australian minimum to maximum security prison and remand centre for male and female inmates, is located in Hume, Australian Capital Territory. The facility is operated by ACT Corrective Services, an agency of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate of the Government of Australian Capital Territory. The facility accepts felons charged under Territory and/or Commonwealth legislation pending legal proceedings; and also detains convicted felons who are sentenced to full-time imprisonment. The centre is named in honour of penal reformer Alexander Maconochie, who worked in Van Diemen’s Land and Norfolk Island from 1836 to 1844, and is the Territory's first prison.

Prior to 2008, correctional services for felons convicted in the Territory under ACT or Commonwealth legislation were managed by Corrective Services NSW on behalf of the Territory and/or Commonwealth governments. In 2004, in spite of localised opposition, a decision was made to locate the new prison, a first for the ACT, in Hume. The Centre was officially opened on 11 September 2008 by the Chief Minister of the ACT, Jon Stanhope. and constructed at a cost of A$130 million. The first prisoners were accepted on 30 March 2009.

The centre was designed as a multi-role facility that replaced the Belconnen Remand Centre and provides full-time detention facilities so that prisoners who would previously have been held in New South Wales correctional facilities may be held locally. Accommodation includes cell-blocks, domestic style cottages, a medical centre and crisis support unit, a 14 bed management unit and a transitional release centre. Male, female, remand and sentenced detainees from low to high security classifications are accommodated. The idea is to reform prisoners, so that they can return to a normal life after their sentence is over.

It is the first prison in Australia that was purpose built to meet human rights obligations. The Centre was designed with environmental principles in mind and includes initiatives such as below ground fresh water storage, grey water recycling for toilet flushing and irrigation, solar hot water and high grade building insulation. The prison can hold 300 prisoners. It is organised as a campus, with accommodation cottages around a town square that contains common facilities. There is a health building, admissions building, education building, a library and a visiting centre. The prisoners are expected to construct their own gymnasium. It is located on the Monaro Highway in Hume.