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Going to Prison

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The experience of imprisonment can be devastating for the family, as well as for the person going to prison.

People going to prison often leave behind partners, children, parents, brothers and sisters, and close friends.

Imprisonment can create practical, emotional and financial problems, along with the shame and embarrassment that families may experience.

It can be hard to ask for support, and families can feel very isolated and alone during this time.

Family members are often fearful of what might happen to their loved one in prison, while understanding the prison system and how it works can be confusing and overwhelming.

Sentencing - The Initial Shock

Hearing your loved-one being sentenced to imprisonment can be a big shock.

If your friend or family member is given a prison sentence, they will be taken away by court officers immediately, and put into custody.

Family and friends are not normally able to say goodbye before the imprisoned person is taken away.

Try to say a quick goodbye beforehand while you have the chance.

If the sentencing occurred in the Local Court, there is a good chance that your criminal lawyer will lodge an ‘appeal’ and make a ‘bail application’ that same day.

A ‘bail application’ is an application to have your loved-one released from custody until the date of the appeal.

If the sentencing occurred in the District or Supreme Courts, it is much harder to make a sucessful ‘bail application’ and have your loved-one released the same day.

He or she will normally have to remain in custody until the date of the appeal.

The next few days can be the most heart-wrenching; particularly as it can be difficult to locate new ‘inmates’ before Corrective Services have processed and placed them; which can take several days.

However, your criminal lawyer can guide you on how to arrange a ‘prison visit’ so that you can see your loved-one as soon as possible.

Arranging the First Prison Visit

To find out where someone is in the prison system you will need the date of birth or their MIN.

Their MIN is a six digit number that’s given to an inmate when they enter prison in NSW for the first time.

This will be their identification number any time they are in prison in NSW.

Friends and Family should obtain this number from corrective services as soon as possible, and write it somewhere safe.

You can then call Sentence Administration on (02) 8346 1000 (9am-5pm Mon-Fri), or after hours (7 days until 10pm) on (02) 9289 5258, to locate him or her.

If you are visiting a maximum or medium security prison, make sure you ring to book a visit, then telephone again on the day to double check.

Even if you are visiting an inmate in a minimum security prison you may still have to book.

It is always best to call the prison before you visit.

Inmates are often moved with little or no notice, and visiting times can be cancelled suddenly when the Prison decides to keep all inmates in their cells (this is often called a “lock-down”).

List of Prisons

Table of NSW Correctional Centres
Correctional Centre Primary Security Classification Other security classifications within the Centre Telephone
Balund-a (Tabulam) Minimum (02) 6660 8600
Bathurst Correctional Complex Medium – also has a minimum security area
– also a reception and screening centre
(02) 6338 3282
Brewarrina (Yetta Dhinnakkal) Centre Minimum (02) 6874 4715
Broken Hill Correctional Centre Medium – also has a minimum security area
– also a reception and screening centre
(08) 8082 6000
Cessnock Correctional Centre Minimum – also has a maximum security area
– also a reception and screening centre
(02) 4993 2333
Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre Medium (02) 9678 4283
Cooma Correctional Centre Medium (02) 6455 0333
Dawn de Loas Correctional Centre Minimum – has work release (02) 9289 5339 | (02) 9289 5323
Dillwynia Correctional Centre (Windsor) Medium (02) 4582 2222
Emu Plains Correctional Centre Minimum (02) 4735 0200
Glen Innes Correctional Centre Minimum (02) 6730 0000
Goulburn Correctional Centre Maximum – also has a minimum security area (02) 4827 2222
Grafton Correctional Centre Medium – also has a minimum security area
– also a reception and screening centre
(02) 6642 0300
High Risk Management Correctional Centre Maximum (02) 4827 2222
Ivanhoe (Warakirri) Centre Minimum (02) 6995 1403
John Morony Correctional Centre (Windsor) Medium – also has a minimum security area (02) 4582 2222
Junee Correctional Centre Medium – managed by The GEO Group
– also has a minimum security area
(02) 6924 3222
Kariong Juvenile Correctional Centre (Gosford) Medium – also a reception and screening centre (02) 4340 3400
Lithgow Correctional Centre Maximum (02) 6350 2222
Long Bay Correctional Complex Maximum (02) 8304 2000
Long Bay Hospital Maximum (02) 8304 2000
Mannus Correctional Complex (Tumbarumba) Minimum (02) 6941 0333
Metropolitan Remand & Reception Centre (MRRC) Maximum – also a reception and screening centre (02) 9289 5600
Metropolitan Special Programs Centre (MSPC) (Long Bay) Maximum – also has a minimum security area (02) 8304 2000
Mid North Coast Correctional Centre (Kempsey) Medium – also has a minimum security area (02) 6560 2700
Oberon Correctional Centre Minimum (02) 6335 5248
Outer Metropolitan Multi Purpose Correctional Centre Minimum (02) 4582 2222
Parklea Correctional Centre Maximum – managed by The GEO Group
– also has minimum security area
(02) 9678 4888
Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre Maximum – also a reception and screening centre (02) 9289 5100
South Coast Correctional Centre (Nowra) Maximum, Medium and Minimum – also has a minimum security section for women (02) 4424 6000
St Heliers Correctional Centre (Muswellbrook) Minimum (02) 6542 4300
Tabulam (Balund-a) Minimum (02) 6660 8600
Tamworth Correctional Centre Medium – also has a minimum security area
– also a reception and screening centre
(02) 6766 4977
Wellington Correctional Centre Minimum and Maximum (02) 6840 2800

Travel to rural prisons can often be expensive and confusing.

Community Restorative Centre (CRC), which is a NSW community organisation, is dedicated to supporting people affected by the criminal justice system.

This includes low cost bus services to rural Correctional Centres where public transport is expensive or inadequate.

The bus service currently operates between Sydney and Berrima, Goulburn, Cessnock, Oberon, Junee, Bathurst, Lithgow, St Heliers and Kirkconnell Correctional Centres.

CRC provides many other important services as well as the weekend bus service which can be accessed by calling (02) 9288 8700.

Your Prison Visit

The first few times you visit a family member in prison can be stressful and confusing.

Most prisons allow up to four adults to visit at a time as well as children.

Taking children on visits can be stressful for all involved.

However, regular visits are very important for both inmates and their families.

Visits to correctional centres mean following very strict rules, it is important to understand the rules and follow them; visits will then be hassle-free and future visits won’t be jeopardised.

On your first visit, it is important to give yourself extra time as you will need to be given a Visitor Identification Number (VIN).

In order to get a VIN you will need over 100 points of ID as well as proof of address.

Call ahead first to make sure that your ID is suitable.

Many prisons will also scan your eyes (biometric scan) in order to prove your identity for future visits.

You will still need to bring ID every time you visit even if you have had your eyes scanned or been given a VIN.

Supporting and Helping Your Loved One

You will not be allowed to give your friend or family member in prison any items or any money directly.

However, ‘inmates’ are allowed up to $100 in their account at any time, up to a maximum of $100 per week.

This money can be used for telephone calls, or on certain days (usually once a week) to purchase or “buy up” certain items, such as; cigarettes and toiletries.

To deposit money, you need to know the inmate’s full name, their MIN or date of birth.

You will also need your own ID with your address on it and your visitor information number.

It is a good idea to ring and check that you can deposit money on the day you visit, as this department is not open every day.

Don’t forget to ask for a receipt.

Remember that as well as visiting, sending letters and depositing money the very best thing you can do for an inmate is to look after yourself.

Always ask his or her criminal lawyer for advice about anything you don’t understand.

Your criminal lawyer can also deposit funds on your behalf when he or she visits your loved-one in prison.

Keeping strong and together must be your utmost priority.

If you feel that you are not coping be sure to get some counselling.

Your loved-one’s criminal lawyer can refer you to a counsellor.

Alternatively, support is available through the Community Restorative Centre which can be contacted on (02) 9288 8700.

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