New fears arise with new prison (Print)

The developments of another men’s prison in the Ravenhall region has created anxiety and concern from residents in nearby Caroline Springs, with many concerned about its close proximity.

Expected to be completed in 2017, the medium security prison will be located next to the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre prison for women and the Metropolitan Remand Centre prison for men, and will consist of 500 new beds, according to Partnerships Victoria.

The project will also produce benefits to the local economy, hoping to produce over 450 jobs during construction, with more jobs once the prison is fully operational, as detailed in a brochure released by the Department of Justice.

But despite its positive boosts to the employment rates in Victoria, residents living close by remain worried for their safety.

Resident Paula Evelyn Mucha said she feels “uncomfortable” living next to many criminal offenders, and says that living next to people who have committed “wretched” crimes is the last thing anyone would want.

“Caroline Springs is a growing community: businesses are expanding, the last blocks are being sold, and the area is being given all the necessary facilities in order to further proper. So what I don’t understand why this particular area was chosen.” She said.

“We need prisons in an isolated area…but is Ravenhall truly isolated if it’s surrounded by rapidly growing suburbs? I am almost tempted to think perhaps the government is showing lack of consideration towards West Melbourne.”

Lilia Gamboa, a nurse and mother of two, says she is frustrated that the new prison will only be medium security, considering that a horrific riot had occurred previously in the maximum security Metropolitan Remand Centre late last year, as reported by the Herald Sun.

“We are a community filled with families and young children. If a riot can happen in a maximum security prison, it can definitely happen again in a medium security one,” she said. “The lower security could make it easier for inmates to possibly even escape, and if they did, where do you think they might run to seek refuge?”

“Caroline Springs would certainly be an option considering how close it is. And that can put innocent lives at risk. It’s quite frightening.”

The construction of Ravenhall prison is expected to begin in 2015, and will also provide mental health services to prisoners.


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