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Inmates To Be Nearer Home

More Wellington prisoners will serve their time near home from next year.

Rimutaka Prison will grow by 120 beds by the end of November 2001, Minister of Corrections Matt Robson announced today.

Construction of a high-medium security block for three 40-bed units will start by January next year.

The Department faces increasing numbers of inmates nationwide. This expansion will match Rimutaka prison's capacity with the local need.

"Contact with family is a crucial factor in combating reoffending. Family influence often has far stronger impact than institutional authorities.

"But many families can't exercise that influence on fathers, sons and brothers locked up at the other end of the country," says Mr Robson.

The Rimutaka project includes new at-risk and medical facilities, part of the drive to safer containment. Power, water and sewage will also be updated.

A consortium of Phillips Smith Conwell Architects from Australia and Opus International New Zealand won the design tender for the project.

Another special 40-bed unit for vulnerable youth is already being built at the prison, as announced earlier this year.

The youth unit is part of a nationwide project to address youth issues in prisons. Similar to those recently built in Hawkes Bay and Waikeria , the Rimutaka youth unit is expected to open in February 2001.

"The projects provide a significant boost to the local economy. As well as construction work, Rimutaka Prison is recruiting 40 new staff right now. And we will be employing another 80 on top of that for the expansion," says Mr Robson.

Ends

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