ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today questioned the Corrections Department's plan to slash the number of night staff in some prisons, asking whose role it is to decide best use of available staff.
"If prison managers have any real authority and responsibility, such operational issues should be decided by them, not remote head office. If managers can't decide whether their prison can sustain a cut in night staff, what are they allowed to decide?" said Mr Franks.
"Having only one night guard may be realistic for some wings or some prisons. It would surely be wrong for others - for example those with more crowding, or with more mad or vicious inmates.
"If this is just cost-cutting, why has Corrections not instead adopted the internationally accepted practice of electrifying prison boundary fences, using proven New Zealand technology?
"The Corrections Department seems to have rejected it on some spurious view that electrification is inhumane. Where has this exaggerated concern suddenly gone? Surely there is something inhumane about leaving a guard to sit alone, inside his fortified command post, as 60 prisoners are left to their own devices at night.
It is inhumane to
the guard, and to the prisoners who could be the victims
of the lonely guard's inevitable delay in checking on an
alarm if he can't move until back-up arrives." Mr Franks