Bunbury has faced some major challenges over the past twelve years. It has moved from a small prison with 120 prisoners that faced a real threat of closure to a 300 prisoner facility that is performing well, plays a critical role in the total prison system, and should have a vibrant future.
Bunbury’s operations extend across two sites. The older section (‘the main prison’) generally holds around 230 prisoners. It is predominantly a medium security prison but also has a number of maximum security cells, mainly to accommodate short term remand prisoners.
Standing separately from the main prison is the Pre-Release Unit (PRU). This opened in late 2008. It is a self-contained facility, surrounded by its own fence, and houses minimum security prisoners who meet its selection criteria. With a design capacity of 72, it is very similar in size and concept to the Boronia Pre-release Centre for Women in Perth. Prisoners live in shared houses and must demonstrate personal responsibility and collaboration, catering for themselves, looking after their houses, and undertaking education or employment. The facility has its own entrance, reception, visits area, health centre, education centre and gym. Trustworthy prisoners who satisfy additional risk assessments are able to work outside the PRU. Some work in the large market gardens, some undertake supervised community work, and a handful undertake job-seeking activities or employment.
This was the fifth inspection of Bunbury but only the second since the opening of the PRU in November 2008. As such, it presented the first opportunity to measure the progress of the PRU since its baseline inspection in July 2011.