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Better prisons low priority on Robson's agenda

Tony Ryall National Justice Spokesman

13 July 2000

Better prisons low priority on Robson's agenda

Matt Robson's statement that he will resign if privately managed prisons perform better than those run by the state gives hope to all New Zealanders, National's Justice spokesman Tony Ryall said today.

"The public would be delighted if this inept and bungling Minister threw in the towel, thus preventing him from mucking up a portfolio which is vital in reducing recidivism.

"I challenge Mr Robson to identify exactly what criteria he will use to decide which of the prison models is working "better". Will it be escapes? The number of training courses completed? The quality of prison meals? Or will he deliberately leave the question ill-defined, so he can weasel his way out of having to deliver on his promise.

"From Matt Robson's point of view it would appear that better prisons are those where inmates have ready access to sex and other home comforts, and where they can be allowed to go home early.

"Of course Mr Robson has weighted the odds in his favour by stacking the odds against privately managed facilities. He's refused to offer them any real support and has insisted they will go back to state management once existing contracts expire. This refusal to give the concept a fair trial has made its eventual demise a fait accompli.

"If Matt Robson were seriously interested in seeing whether privately managed prisons can help create a safer society he would at the very least allow a level playing field to see what results they deliver. As it is he is obviously more interested in woolly ideology than safer communities," Tony Ryall said.

Ends

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