New maximum security wing opens

Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith SC, officially opened the new $97 million maximum security section at Cessnock Correctional Complex last Tuesday (February 13).

The ceremonial handing over of keys was attended by Mayor of Cessnock, Cr. Bob Pynsent as well as the Commissioner for Corrective Services NSW Peter Severin, Director General Laurie Glanfield and the jail’s General Manager David Mumford. 

The new state-of-the-art maximum security wing makes Cessnock Correctional Complex the largest prison facility in NSW outside of Sydney and capable of housing up to 800 inmates.

“With the new 250-bed section Cessnock will have nine wings housing remand and sentenced inmates in classifications from maximum through to medium and pre-release minimum security inmates,” Mr. Smith said.

“The new section, which took two years to build, is already home to about 100 inmates and a structured intake will continue for the next fortnight until the centre is at capacity.”

Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said the new section is a modern, secure and humane addition to the State’s correctional facilities.

“There has been a great deal of careful planning including a highly detailed testing and shake-down process for this section,” Mr. Severin said.

“In addition, falling inmate numbers gave us the opportunity to conduct a state-wide operational analysis resulting in the retirement of an ageing prison section at Long Bay and re-opening of a minimum security are at Silverwater.

“Now, with the addition of Cessnock’s new section, we are extremely well positioned in terms of our operations and delivery of inmate programs to reduce re-offending.”

Mr. Smith said more than 1500 people injected 500,000 hours into its construction and a total of 16 per cent of the workforce were indigenous.

“The construction phase saw real employment opportunities in the local community for indigenous and non-indigenous people including 15 new youth apprenticeships in various building and construction trades,” Mr. Smith said.


- Construction of the original Cessnock Correctional Centre began during the late 1960’s and was officially opened in 1974 by the then Chief Justice of NSW Sir John Kerr and the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, John Maddison. 

- The opening of the new section will provide accommodation for an additional 250 inmates. This makes Cessnock the second largest facility in NSW after the Metropolitan Reception and Remand Centre at Silverwater. It will also be the State’s largest and the most regional correctional centre.

- With the opening of the new wing, Cessnock will have a total of nine wings and will house almost 800 remand and sentenced inmates.

- John Holland Pty Ltd began construction work in April 2010. The two-year construction was completed in May 2012.

- The facility was built over the former sports oval in the existing minimum security area. It was completed within the $97 million budget allocated for its design, construction and fit-out.

The project has used: 

- More than 10,000 cubic metres of concrete, enough to fill four-Olympic sized pools.

- 6000 square metres of asphalt and more than 1500 fence panels.

- The electrical cabling could stretch from Sydney to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast 

- Enough turf to cover the equivalent of five football fields.

- More than 37,000 native plants will provide some greenery to the new space.

Features include:

- A Health Centre with two observation cells for inmates with medical conditions. 

- Electronic security systems including cameras with infrared and video motion detection capacity.

- Motion detectors throughout and ability to control all areas from a central point.

- Ability to manage movements by isolating different areas.

- First facility to have in entirety a Positive Air Flow system, allowing for buildings to cool without the aid of air conditioning.

CEREMONY: Cessnock Correctional Complex General Manager David Mumford receives the keys from Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith. Photo by Jessica Willard.

CEREMONY: Cessnock Correctional Complex General Manager David Mumford receives the keys from Attorney General and Minister for Justice Greg Smith. Photo by Jessica Willard.