By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Dandenong could be home to a 300-bed jail, under a proposal by the Liberal Nationals state coalition.
If elected to Government, the Coalition will provide $2 million for a business case for the Eastern Victoria Remand Centre.
It would be based in Dandenong’s industrial precinct or surrounds.
The centre would mean fewer remand prisoners being “baby sat” by police, opposition corrections spokesman Edward O’Donohue said.
More police would be available for frontline duties, he said.
“Fewer prisoners being baby sat or transported by police from station to station will mean more police on the beat to prevent crime and catch criminals.”
According to official stats, there were 7,149 prisoners in Victoria as of 30 June 2017 – up 71 per cent in the past decade.
The Coalition has also promised a new 1300-bed jail in Lara.
In the lead-up to the State Election, the Police Association called for extra metro-Melbourne remand facilities – managed by Corrections Victoria not police.
Police were being tied up managing cells filled with sentenced and remanded prisoners, including at-risk youth, according to their statement 2018 Election Forward.
“After their first presentation at court, prisoners who are remanded should be managed in Department of Corrections facilities from this point.”
Laura Chipp, Reason Party candidate and head of Victoria Police’s childrens court prosecution unit, said the proposed centre would be a waste of “hundreds of millions of dollars to build”.
“It is not evidence-based to stop offending among youths and adults.”
The Reason Party has proposed an “evidence-based” 32-bed drug-and-alcohol and mental health facility for youth in the South East.
Upon an order from a court, young offenders aged 10-18 would be confined in the facility for up to 6 months.
“We don’t want to wait for the youth to escalate to really serious offences like car-jacking or home invasion,” Ms Chipp said.
“If we rehabilitate the child at a young age, it will cause (huge) savings for the community and future victims.”
Dandenong Labor MP Gabrielle Williams said:“The contrast couldn’t be more stark – Labor is announcing new schools for our local community, and the Liberals are talking about prisons.”
The State Government had opened nearly 2000 new prison beds in four years – with 1200 more to come.
It had employed 520 further prison staff “to make sure our prisons are safe”, Ms Williams said.
“When last in Government, (the Coalition) failed to plan for growth – leaving our prison system overcrowded and unsafe for staff and the community.”