Berrimah Prison

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Berrimah Prison
BerrimahPrison Nov2008.png
LocationDarwin, Northern Territory
Coordinates12°26′45″S 130°56′26″E / 12.445775°S 130.940616°E / -12.445775; 130.940616Coordinates: 12°26′45″S 130°56′26″E / 12.445775°S 130.940616°E / -12.445775; 130.940616
(prison site now houses the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre)[1]
Security classMaximum
Opened1 September 1979
Closed28 November 2014
Managed byNorthern Territory Correctional Services

Berrimah Prison, was an Australian maximum security prison for males formerly located in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. The centre was managed by Northern Territory Correctional Services, an agency of the Department of Justice of the Government of the Northern Territory; the centre detained sentenced and charged felons under Northern Territory and/or Commonwealth law.

Following significant overcrowding, decommission plans were put into place and the adult facility was closed on Friday 28 November 2014; the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre was moved to the Berrimah prison site following an incident at that prison.[1]


The centre opened on 1 September 1979 and replaced the Fannie Bay Gaol.[2] Initially built to hold 110 prisoners, Berrimah Prison in 2012 housed approximately 750 inmates.[3][4]


In October 2010 it was reported that the prison changed visiting hours from seven days per week to weekends only, with the move likely being a cost-cutting measure, and at odds with the 2004 government-commissioned review recommending increased visits for prisoners.[5]


In 2012, ABC News reported Berrimah Prison was crowded to the point of overflowing.[6] Conditions at the prison in 2011 were reported to be 'Dickensian', with spoiled food, rats and mosquitoes, with the worst conditions endured by prisoners on remand.[3] The Australian quoted Northern Territory Supreme Court Justice Dean Mildren as saying the conditions do not comply with Australia's international obligations; The Australian also cited the strongest criticisms of the prison's conditions as coming from the Territory's executive director of Correctional Services, Ken Middlebrook, while Correctional Services Minister Gerry McCarthy challenged the report that prisoners were served rotten food.[3] Western Australia's former head of custodial services, Richard Harding, described Berrimah's conditions as "appalling".[4]

In 2009, the NT News reported there was a gang riot at the prison caused by heightened tension from overcrowding and staff shortages, with several jail blocks locked down, it was also reported that the Government stated that Berrimah was no longer suitable as a modern prison.[7]

In 2008 it was reported that a chronic lack of social services in the Northern Territory was the reason for mentally-disabled persons being held for months in isolation at Berrimah Prison; the report also quoted the NT Government as indicating it is planning to build a forensic mental health unit as part of its planned new prison, but that it would not be designed as a substitute for social health services facilities.[8]

Decommissioning plans[edit]

In 2010 the Northern Territory Government announced plans for a new correctional precinct to be built at Holtze to replace the Berrimah Prison; the new location is 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) north of Howard Springs Road and includes a new men's and women's correctional centre and the Territory's first secure mental health and behavioural management facility. Construction of the precinct commenced in late 2011 and was subsequently completed in the second half of 2014.[9][10]

Notable prisoners[edit]


  1. ^ a b Braithwaite, Alyssa. "A history of the allegations of "inhumane" treatment at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre". The Feed. Special Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  2. ^ Bennett, Steve (1979). "NT Government gazette" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Dickensian conditions in Northern Territory prisons". The Australian. Australian Associated Press. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b Robinson, Natasha (22 June 2009). "NT jail rate among world's worst" (PDF). The Australian. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 February 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  5. ^ Churchman, Fiona (22 October 2010). "Prison visitors to be locked out". ABC Darwin. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  6. ^ Bardon, Jane (24 February 2012). "Berrimah prison nears overflowing". Australia: ABC News. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  7. ^ Adlam, Nigel (14 March 2009). "Gangs riot in Darwin jail". Northern Territory News. Darwin. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  8. ^ Robinson, Natasha (22 December 2008). "Mentally ill 'need help, not prison'". The Australian. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  9. ^ "New Correctional Precinct" (Press release). Government of the Northern Territory. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  10. ^ McCarthy, Gerry (20 April 2011). "$27 million Budget injection into Corrections Precinct at Holtze" (Press release). Government of the Northern Territory. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  11. ^ Linder, Douglas O., professor, The Trial of Lindy and Michael Chamberlain: ("The Dingo Trial") A Trial Commentary, University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School, 1995–2011.
  12. ^ Lindy Chamberlain Timeline Archived 11 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  13. ^ "Falconio murderer moved to Alice Springs". Australia: ABC News. 25 August 2007. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  14. ^ Anonymous, Pine Gap 4 Jailed in Berrimah Prison, Aotearoa Independent Media Centre,, 14 February 2008. Retrieved 2012-2-26.
  15. ^ Ciaron, Pine Gap 4 Head to Darwin, Head to Jail!, Indymedia Ireland, 11 February 2008. Retrieved 2012-2-26.

External links[edit]

  • Photos of Berrimah Prison, Flickr, K. Hodge, 2008-11-5. Retrieved 2012-2-26.
  • Warchot, A. and Whelan, P. (2009), Biting insect assessment Berrimah Farm and Prison, Medical Entomology, Northern Territory Department of Health and Families. (Primarily sand flies and mosquitoes.)
  • Prison Officer Recruiting, NT. Retrieved 2012-2-26.