GOULBURN, New South Wales — In an effort to prevent the radicalization of inmates in general population housing areas, Australia’s New South Wales Department of Corrective Services is seeking to construct a dedicated facility for inmates identified as extremists.
The 54-bed “mini-max” jail will be built on the Goulburn Supermax prison site and will be the country’s first “terrorists-only” facility. The facility will feature soundproof cells as well as both counter terrorism and de-radicalization programs. Construction is expected to take up to three years.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the $47 million project at a press conference earlier this month, and noted that the government is leaving nothing to chance when it comes to the proliferation of extremism among inmates.
“We’ll be making sure that we continue to have the toughest position in the nation in relation to reducing and eliminating terrorism activity,” Premier Berejiklian said at the news conference.
She added that the extra capacity that will be created by the project is necessary to “isolate those prisoners who are likely to spread radicalization through the prison network.”
The project will also allow the existing Goulburn Supermax facility to expand its capacity from 45 inmates to 75, according to Australia’s News 7. Currently, Goulburn Supermax houses 33 inmates who have been convicted or accused of terrorism-related crimes, and a further 12 inmates have been identified as having extremist views. News 7 reported that of these 12 inmates, five were radicalized while in custody.
The project has not been without controversy, however, as some critics and legislators say that sequestering radical inmates will only work to reinforce their extremist beliefs. Critics add that this could make such inmates even more dangerous upon release. Speaking with local news outlet Sky News, Australia’s Attorney General George Brandeis said that the project seems to be worthwhile, provided that the prison’s design and configuration does not allow for the reinforcing of terror-related ideologies.