What to Do if You Have a Loved One at Silverwater Prison

Information on this page was reviewed by a specialist defence lawyer before being published. Click to read more.
Prison at night

Finding out that your friend or family member has been taken into custody can be extremely upsetting and stressful.

You may be concerned for their welfare while they are in jail, and unsure how much you will be able to see them, particularly if they are transferred to a jail that is a long way away.

Having a friend or family member in prison can be an isolating experience.

The stigma surrounding prison can mean that you feel isolated, and unable to talk about your feelings to others in your community.

If there was media attention around the case, you may also feel exposed and vulnerable.

As well as supporting your loved one in prison, it is important to make sure you have good support networks yourself and for any children who may be distressed by the experience.

There are a number of organisations that offer help and support to families of prisoners, including the Community Restorative Centre and not-for-profit organisation Shine for Kids.

What happens after sentencing?

When they are first sentenced, the majority of NSW prisoners are sent to the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre at Silverwater Prison.

From there they will be classified and sent to the most appropriate facility for their needs.

They will be taken directly from the court room to jail without saying goodbye to their loved ones.

If you suspect that your friend or family member will be sentenced to a term in jail, it is a good idea to say goodbye to them beforehand so you are prepared.

On first arriving at Silverwater prison, inmates will be strip searched and required to hand in their personal possessions to be stored while they are in custody.

They will then be provided with prison clothing, and will undergo assessment by medical staff and psychological staff who will determine whether they are considered at risk of self-harm or suicide.

Once they have been classified and assessed, inmates will need to wait until there is space at a suitable correctional centre.

They will generally remain at Silverwater while they wait.

When can I visit?

There are set visiting times and days for inmates of Silverwater prison, and you will need to phone ahead and book each visit.

Visits last for 60 minutes, and there are a maximum of four adults allowed at any one time for each inmate.

It is a good idea to phone the centre before you visit, to make sure your loved one has not been transferred.

Inmates are liable to be transferred to other correctional centres without warning, and it can be frustrating to arrive at the prison only to find out that your friend or family member has been moved elsewhere.

Can I help financially?

Inmates are able to buy items such as food and toilettries once per week.

This is called ‘buy up’.

They can spend up to $100 per week on buy up.

Family and friends are permitted to deposit up to $100 into an inmate’s account.

This is done by attending the appropriate counter at the MRRC and providing the inmate’s ‘MIN’ – or Master Index Number- which is their identifying number in custody.

What should I do if I am worried about their welfare?

If you have reason to be concerned about the physical or emotional welfare of your loved one, you can phone the jail and ask to speak to a nurse or psychologist.

If nobody is available, you can explain your concerns and they will arrange for someone to check on the inmate as soon as possible.

It is important that any concerns about self-harm or ill treatment are taken seriously.

Silverwater prison allows legal visits, so if you have any legal concerns about the way the case was handled, your loved one can arrange to have their criminal lawyer visit them in prison.

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Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with 25 years of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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