IT'S usually only staff and inmates that have seen inside the walls of the Glen Innes Correctional Centre.
But now, what life is really like in the minimum-security facility can be revealed after it was inspected for the first time by the state's Inspector of Custodial Services.
The inspector, Fiona Rafter, visited the prison farm as part of her work - one of five minimum-security jails examined in a new report released this week.
THE PRISON FARM
The prison first opened in 1928 as a camp, but the current facility, built in 1996, is 45km east of Glen Innes.
It can hold a maximum of 208 inmates, but on average housed about 167 men in October 2016 to September 2017, and 176 inmates in the following year.
Between October 2017 and September 2018, 196 people were released on parole after serving their full-time sentence in Glen Innes prison. Only 14 of those actually stayed on, living in the Glen Innes area, to be supervised by local corrective authorities.
According to the report, the majority of inmates are employed in the centres sawmill, dry mill and timber products industries.
As well as that, inmates can also work in the correctional centre's kitchen, as well as do cleaning, building and ground maintenance work.
"Inmates broadly felt it was better than elsewhere in the system," the inspector said in her detailed report.
At the end of December 2018, of the 151 inmates working at the prison, 59 were employed at the saw mill, seven were used for maintenance at the mill; 20 others were employed with the timer products; and another 34 at the dry mill. Other inmates were employed as clerks; ground maintenance at the prison; in the food service or laundry.
"Various types of work are
conducted around the mill: logs are cut into beams and planks, which often end up as pallets; workers on the floor sort and stack products, sweep and bin waste timber, and low grade material is stacked and dried for kindling, which is sold on commercially. In the dry mill, newly dried timbers were fed through rollers and compressed into smooth slats for use in making beds at other correctional facilities. It is a significant industrial operation and hard work for the staff and inmates."
The inmates work longer over four days, not five now, and then use the fifth day for rehabilitative programs or training and learning initiatives.
But the inspector found the level of workplace injuries was concerning inside the prison.
"While on site we were informed of a number of kickback and splintering incidents in which inmates hands or arms had received cuts, and one serious incident in which a saw operator's torso was impaled," she said in the report.
Figures revealed "a high level of workplace-related injuries or
incidents" with 91 safety incidents in 2016 and 90 in 2017.
In her recommendation to Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW), the inspector said the viability of the mill "as a productive enterprise, and as the main source of inmate employment at Glen Innes CC should be independently reviewed" to see if it is worth continuing.
The inspector found there was no literacy or numeracy education at the time of inspection in 2018, and "the lack of means to provide basic education was concerning". According to those inmates interviewed for the inspection, on the whole they "spoke positively about the centre and indicated they would rather be where they
were than at any other centre".
Each day, the kitchen whips up sandwiches for inmates, who also get one hot lunch meal per week and two cold dinners per week.
CSNSW also serve evening meals which are then reheated by the kitchen workers.
"We also observed afternoon tea being prepared and delivered to mill workers. This was a positive recognition of the longer work day inmates were adjusting to."
The inspector found many of the inmates chose to buy their own food items through buy-ups and prepare their own meals. Inmates are also allowed to spend up to $30-a-week from their own funds on a perishable buy-up - the shopping list includes a list of meat, vegetables and dairy products in addition to staples such as rice, pasta and flour.
They can use the electric frypans, while the honour houses - or the supreme accommodation for inmates - have access to slow cookers.
Inmates have access to basic gym equipment, an oval and a tennis court. Some of the honour houses have an exercise bike inside.
There is no organised sporting activities or competitions, but inmates can go outside for physical activity.
Inside, they are able to hire a television for $5.50 per week. The inspector said watching TV alleviates boredom and helps to pass the time at night where inmates are locked in their units.
The four segregation cells are commonly referred to by inmates as 'The Pound'. They're cold, with staff watching via CCTV and there is no TV to pass the time. The cells are used to hold workers sacked or refusing to work during work hours.
The main compound boasts single storey residential units that are built in a quadrangle formation. There are 10 units that can hold up to 10 inmates - the majority are in single rooms. In the quadrangle, there is a common grassed area, gym exercise equipment as well as a tennis court.
They also have access to five phones to call home, family members and friends.
Inside the units in the compound area, there is a common room with a basic kitchen; a TV; dining table; and plastic chairs. There's no lounges inside, and there isn't enough plastic seating for everyone to sit and eat a meal at the table or watch TV at the same time.
Inmates at the Glen Innes prison farm were being held in rooms that were cold and had poor insulation, the inspector found.
She found there was issues with the supply of clothing, because laundry was only available on a weekly basis per inmate, "which is arguably inadequate to ensure access to a daily change of clean clothes".
The inspector said there wasn't enough warm blankets for the freezing climate, which can see temperatures dip below zero for many months of the year. She said the open-weave cotton blankets issued are "unsuitable for the local climate in winter".
Inmates can buy doonas through the inmate buy-up system, but these are placed on a monthly order.
"It would be preferable if doonas were available for immediate issue to all new inmates."