Prison to hold rare open day

The Otago Corrections Facility. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
The Otago Corrections Facility. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
A rare inside look at the workings of the Otago Corrections Facility (OCF) later this month will be offered to 300 members of the public.

The doors to the 335-bed prison at Milburn will be opened at the first public open day there since the prison began operating two years ago. The event will be held on Saturday, June 27.

The offer is limited to the first 300 people who register. Those people will be asked to complete a visitor application form and allow the Department of Corrections to perform a criminal record check on them.

OCF manager Jack Harrison was excited about the event.

"While we opened the doors to some 2500 people before opening for business, not many of the general public have been in since then. 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."

"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," he said.

Visitors will see a typical cell, exercise areas, the visits centre, the initial prisoner reception area and a number of displays. There will also be information for anyone considering a career with the department, while community probation staff will also explain their role.

"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 the community," Mr Harrison said.

Milton Area Promotions will run a food stall on site on the day and the proceeds from a gold coin donation from visitors will be evenly split between its work and the Prisoner Aid and Rehabilitation Society.

Because OCF must remain a highly secure environment at all times, a visitor form and criminal check on all visitors was needed, Mr Harrison said. Application forms are available at the prison's reception between 8am and 4pm or by contacting Ariana Nixon on (03) 417 9303.

"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-served basis."

People wanting to guarantee their place need to complete the form as soon as possible. Without it, they will not be allowed inside.

Completed forms must be returned to the prison by Tuesday, June 16.

Visitors at the open day will be admitted from 9am, with the last tour starting no later than 9.45am.

The tour will be about two hours long.


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