Prison with no bars opens in Canberra

September 11th, 2008 - 4:43 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, Sept.11 (ANI): The first open prison in Australia, which has been built according to human rights principles, has been officially opened in Canberra.
According to, the 131 million Australian dollar Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) is an open campus style prison that can house up to 300 male and female inmates.
It will take in remand and sentenced prisoners with low to high security classifications. It has no bars on the windows.
Razor-wire fencing has also been discarded and prisoners will be issued with swipe cards so they can leave their rooms, but not the facility, when they please.
About half of the prisoners will be accommodated in cottage-style buildings, while the rest will stay in cell blocks. No women will be put into the cell blocks.
The Australian Capital Territory Government said the prison is the first to be built according to human rights principles and based on the idea that inmates can be rehabilitated better if treated with respect.
“A healthy prison is one in which: everyone is and feels safe (prisoners, staff and visitors alike); everyone is treated with respect and as a fellow human being (again, all people within the AMC); everyone is encouraged to improve him/herself and is given every opportunity to do so through the provision of purposeful activity; and everyone is enabled to maintain contact with their families and is prepared for release,” ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell says on the prison’’s website.
In the past the ACT’’s long-term prisoners have been held in New South Wales prisons but that will change from November when the first inmates are transferred to the AMC.
At today’’s opening Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the prison is “a physical manifestation of an important philosophical conviction”.
In blessing the new prison, Reverend Robert Withycombe said it was an example of “justice blended with mercy and compassion”.
The new prison is essential because the ACT “had to stop transporting our convicts”, Stanhope said. (ANI)

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