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Inmates, Not Out-mates

Inmates, Not Out-mates

The escape of fifteen inmates from New Zealand prisons since July raises serious questions about prison processes and officer-inmate ratios, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Stephen Hudson and Michael McKegg are the second pair to escape Manawatu Prison this year. The escape of these two dangerous inmates from the prison's "high security" unit shows why prison inspires little fear in offenders.

"On average, more than two prisoners escaped from prison each month since July. Corrections Minister Hon Mark Gosche must answer serious questions: is he satisfied that prison processes are adequate to protect the community, and is the officer-inmate ratio sufficient?

"The Minister is ideologically opposed to privately run prisons, yet there seems little in his own management to inspire full confidence from the public. Taxpayer money being spent on prison upgrades does not appear to be working.

"New Zealand prisons are already in danger of becoming country clubs for career criminals - with hearty meals, disinfectant for drug needles, and a Government-oiled revolving door which lets inmates out in time for the festive season.

"Adding further insult to this `caring, not punishing' ideology is the Corrections Minister's seeming inability to keep prisoners behind bars.

"Over-stretched police have enough workload without having to hunt down criminals they have already put behind bars.

"Protecting the community from dangerous criminals is a fundamental role of the state - and a function that has no room for political correctness," Mr Franks said.

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