Cessnock Correctional Centre could be ready to home 400 new maximum security prisoners by the end of the year.
The NSW Government announced plans last year to introduce 1000 extra beds across three new buildings at the prison. The jail currently has capacity for 867 male inmates and 20 females in a transit remand facility.
The first building that will be finished is a 400-bed maximum security facility. Most external cladding and roofing has been installed and work on internal fit-out has begun. The rapid-build facility, known as Hunter Correctional Centre, is on track for completion by the end of 2017.
Corrective Services NSW is seeking planning and design advice on 320-bed maximum security and 280-bed minimum security facilities, which are set for completion by the end of 2019.
Maximum security prisons generally have high walls, electronic perimeter protection and strict security inside. They hold inmates whose escape could be highly dangerous to the public.
Minimum security institutions hold inmates who may be trusted in open conditions where there are few barriers to escape.
The jail expansion has been a point of contention for nearby residents due to increased noise, traffic and the potential for higher crime rates in the area.
A second entry to the jail has been created in Kerlew Street to allow construction vehicles onto the site.
A group of concerned residents started a petition urging the NSW Government not to make Kerlew Street a permanent access point.
A Corrective Services spokesperson could not confirm if the construction entry would open to visitors.
“Corrective Services NSW continues to consult with Cessnock City Council to examine all options for future access to the site,” the spokesperson said.