Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 August 2004) . . Page.. 4046 ..
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement concerning the ACT prison.
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, the subject of an ACT prison was first mooted as early as 1955. My government is now turning the vision of a prison for the ACT into a reality. The government has funded in the 2004-05 budget the development and construction of the ACT prison. We have moved beyond the empty rhetoric of the opposition, which failed to fund the prison and continued to transfer vast numbers of prisoners interstate, on this matter.
The Alexander Maconochie Centre will include a new 139-bed remand centre to replace the Belconnen Remand Centre and the Symonston Temporary Remand Centre. It will include a 175-bed facility for sentenced prisoners and a 60-bed transitional release centre for low-risk prisoners in the final stages of their sentences.
The name “Alexander Maconochie Centre” was deliberately chosen to honour the memory of a great prison reformer and the many humane reforms he introduced to a brutal prison system. It also sets the tone for the ACT prison, which will uphold human rights and focus strongly on prisoner welfare and rehabilitation. His last words on prison reform to a House of Lords committee are documented as:
My experience leads me to say that there is no man utterly incorrigible. Treat him as a man, not as a dog. You cannot recover a man except by doing justice to the manly qualities which he may have and giving him an interest in developing them.
One description of Maconochie says:
To the hopelessly brutalised convicts on Norfolk Island, Alexander Maconochie appeared like an angel from heaven.
Little did they know that, but for the failure of an earlier dream, his fate and theirs could have been very different.
Our aim, through the ACT prison, is to change the fate of prisoners, offer them a better future and equip them with skills to live successfully in the community after their release. We have a responsibility to the ACT community, to our prisoners and to their families to provide opportunities for persons sentenced to imprisonment to turn their lives around. As noted by Justice Stephen Tumin, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisoners for England and Wales between 1978 and 1995:
Criminal behaviour emerges as a result of joint failures of the individual and the society of which he or she is part. As a result, society must take some responsibility for crime, and at least make an attempt to rehabilitate offenders.