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Central West prison in a league of its own

Last published on 15 Jan 2021 in Media Releases

A Central West prison famous for its no-cell approach is using innovative and unique techniques to build respect between staff and inmates.

Macquarie Correctional Centre officer Wayne Jacobson has been with the Corrective Services NSW family for 30 years and is part of the push to find new ways to reduce reoffending.

“At the end of the day, with the exception of our lifers, everyone is released. So what kind of person do you want back in the community?” Wayne says.

“I’ve had a former inmate move next door to me and he was a high-risk offender who went on to kill someone. If we do nothing in prison to support change, nothing positive will follow.”

The father of two is among 10,000 Corrective Service NSW staff celebrated on National Corrections Day, Friday 15 January for their commitment keeping our community safe.

This year’s theme is Working together to reduce reoffending focusing on the ways our staff assist offenders through programs, education, promoting a good workplace culture and positive interactions.

“Because there are no cells, inmate days are carefully structured with mandatory participation in education, employment, programs or some kind of therapeutic activity,” Wayne says.

Wayne was chosen to roll out the new ‘Five Minute Intervention’ project to all staff across the state, which aims to turn everyday conversations with inmates into opportunities for change.

He says part of Corrective Services NSW’s effort to reduce reoffending is building mutual respect between prison staff and offenders through positive interactions.

“Rehabilitation is more likely if the prison environment provides positive reinforcement and we know staff attitudes and actions impact how people in custody think and respond,” he says.

“It’s really exciting to be at a prison that encourages new ideas and innovations like the FMI.

“Staff and inmates see Macquarie as an incredible opportunity to work together to reduce criminal attitudes, inspire a real go at reintegrating and ultimately reduce reoffending.”

As a former Manager of Security, Wayne recognises the reciprocal benefits for staff who feel safer coming to work when there is reduced conflict and drug use among inmates.

“Every staff member whether you’re the officer on the night shift with an inmate whose loved one has just passed or the admin assistant looking after sentencing dates – every role counts and no one role can work without the other,” he says.

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