Cessnock's maximum security men's prison expansion has been completed, with the new 330-bed wing set to be ready to receive inmates in the coming months.
Corrective Services NSW announced on Wednesday upgrades at Shortland Correctional Centre would increase the number of beds at the facility to 580 and create more than 70 jobs. The expansion included the construction of a health clinic, a sports and exercise area and 4000 square-metre programs and industries building.
Shortland Correctional Centre Governor Simon Raper said the new industries building was part of a push to equip inmates with practical skills and knowledge.
"It's about rehabilitation, and programs that we can offer to inmates in maximum security so we can start addressing their offending behaviour at the start of their sentence," he said. "This facility has a large industries area with a bakery and laundry. Inmates will be able to complete food safety handling courses and traineeships in the bakery and laundry.
"We are trying to better prepare them for when they are let out into society."
The expansion of the existing 250-bed facility is part of the NSW Government's $3.8 billion investment into increasing capacity in the state's prisons to meet demand.
"Corrective Services NSW is a major employer in the Hunter region and we're proud to be strengthening that relationship with the community," Commissioner Perter Severinsaid.
"The expansion of this maximum-security prison will allow us to manage our inmates safely and effectively while providing greater access to education, programs and skills-based employment in prison industries."
The former maximum-security section of Cessnock Correctional Centre was renamed Shortland Correctional Centre in June last year after Lieutenant John Shortland, a renowned naval officer and explorer of the Hunter region in the late 1700s.
Construction started about 12 months ago, and the project was completed on schedule and on budget.
The newly expanded centre is expected to begin receiving inmates late May, following final operational and security testing.