Otago Corrections Facility (OCF) is opening its gates between 9am and 12 noon on Saturday 27 June to offer the community a rare opportunity to go inside and see life behind the wall – without having to commit an offence.
The prison is holding a public open day for the first time since opening two years ago.
“While we opened the doors to some 2500 people before opening for business, not many of the general public have been in since then,” says OCF Prison Manager Jack Harrison.
“We employ around 200 very dedicated and hard working people in various roles around the prison who are proud to make a difference in their community. This open day is a chance for the public to see what our staff do and how they maintain public safety while working on the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners.
“We want to encourage anyone who has an interest in what we do to come along,” says Mr Harrison.
“While prisons appear on television regularly what you see is rarely accurate, and we’d like to show the reality of a prison environment in New Zealand.
“Visitors to the prison will get to see typical cells, exercise areas, the visits centre, our initial prisoner reception area as well as a number of displays that depict life within the wall. There will also be information available for anyone considering a career with Corrections and our Community Probation colleagues will also be in attendance to explain the work they do.
“Not only is this an opportunity to show the public the prison, and the great work our staff do, we’re also using this as a means of doing something for our community. Milton Area Promotions will be running a food stall on site on the day. A Gold Coin donation to be split between this group and the Prisoner Aid and Rehabilitation Society (PARS) would be appreciated from those coming to the open day.”
OCF is the second newest prison in the country with the first prisoners received into the site in June 2007. The prison currently holds a maximum of 335 sentenced and remand prisoners with security classifications from minimum to high medium.
OCF must remain a highly secure environment at all times. To maintain this security all visitors to the site must first complete a visitor application form and give their consent for a criminal record check. These forms are available from the OCF reception between 8am – 4pm or by contacting Ariana Nixon on (03) 417 9303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have a limited amount of time to get people through so we will be capping attendance at 300 registrations. Anyone wishing to visit will be accepted on a first come first serve basis. To guarantee your spot please complete the visitors form as quickly as possible. Without that form you will not be allowed onsite,” says Mr Harrison.
Completed forms must be returned to the prison by 16 June 2009. Visitors to the site will be admitted from 9.00am on 27 June, with the last tour starting no later than 9.45am. No one will be admitted after that time. The tour is approximately 2 hours long and all visitors will leave the site by 11.45am.
Notes to reporter:
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