Overcrowding problems that have plagued Canberra's prison have forced the ACT government to consider reopening a former detention centre.
But the Symonston Correctional Centre would need extensive remediation works to bring it up to scratch before it could again house detainees.
ACT Corrections Minister Mick Gentleman said the government was considering options for the future of the Symonston site based on future accommodation needs at the Alexander Maconochie Centre.
Canberra's jail has been plagued by overcrowding issues, which has led to remandees being placed with convicted prisoners - which is in breach of territory law.
Female prisoners have also been forced to be housed in a wing designed for high-security male prisoners and are subjected to "catcalls and worse", the territory's independent corrections inspector, Neil McAllister, has found.
Shocking allegations have also been made by an Aboriginal woman, who says she was strip-searched by guards in full view of male detainees.
Ongoing tensions led to a violent outbreak in November last year, in which 27 prisoners armed themselves with broom handles and other implements.
Several fires were also lit in the riot, which left a $5.7 million repair bill.
Prison staff have also come under great pressure, with overtime hours more than tripling over the past five years.
The issues prompted the opposition corrections spokeswoman, Elizabeth Kikkert, to ask the Corrections Minister if there were any plans for the future of the Symonston site.
In response to the question on notice, Mr Gentleman indicated the government was looking at reopening the site.
"The ACT government is considering a range of options with respect to the future accommodation needs of the AMC," he said.
But Mr Gentleman said the centre needed extensive works before detainees could be housed there.
"While the SCC is still declared as an ACT correctional centre, it would require extensive works to bring it to an acceptable security and safety standard as a full-time correctional facility," he said
"As such, the SCC remains closed for this purpose at this time."
An ACT government spokesman said remediation works would be needed "to ensure security, technology, amenities, accessibility, safety and sustainability are appropriate to house detainees".
At present, the Symonston centre is often used for training purposes and was most recently used for training ACT Corrective Services staff.
The ACT government had previously considered reopening the centre for female prisoners in 2017.
The government was forced to temporarily reopen the Symonston centre in 2015 after the Alexander Maconochie Centre reached capacity.
It closed to prisoners after expansion works at the jail were completed in 2016 but the prison population has continued to rise.
It grew from 268 detainees in 2012 to 429 in 2019. It climbed to as high as 507 detainees in 2018.
But the Symonston centre only has a design capacity of 22, however it did hold 30 detainees at one point in 2009.
Mr Gentleman also told an estimates hearing in February that he has considered setting up a new arrangement with NSW to take ACT prisoners. Prisoners from the territory were previously housed in NSW before the territory had its own jail.
There are currently 10 ACT prisoners being housed in NSW jails, eight of those were moved after last year's November riot.
The Alexander Maconochie Centre was championed by former ACT chief minister Jon Stanhope, but he has recently been scathing of the jail and labelled it an "appalling failure" and a mistake.
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