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Alexander: Private prisons work - end of story!

Alexander: Private prisons work - end of story!

United Future law and order spokesman Marc Alexander today accused the Government of putting ideology before common sense in opposing privately run prisons.

Acting Corrections Minister Margaret Wilson spoke of the Government's opposition to the principle of private sector prison management at the weekend. Mr Alexander said she was simply being doctrinaire.

"She admits herself that she has no criticism of the job being done by Australasian Correctional Management in running Auckland Central Remand Prison, yet she says they shouldn't have the job.

"It is a completely ideological response. It's the old line, okay, it works in practice, but does it work in theory?" Mr Alexander said. "I thought we had grown past that."

"The facts are very simple: the only privately run prison in the country is better than most of the public prisons. It is the only one to have achieved an international quality accreditation and it saves the money of taxpayers, some of whom are crime victims.

"It provides more efficient staffing levels while maintaining quality care of inmates, and it costs the taxpayer just $43,000 per inmate per year, as against $72,000 for a comparable remand facility.

"This country spends $51 million a year on remand services, and yet that privately run prison gets just $11 million of that total, while housing more than 40 percent of the country's remand prisoners.

"The Government has to get over this namby-pamby 'society must do it' thing. Standards and costs are the measuring stick, not who holds the key that turns the lock at night."

"I don't think the average prisoner is as concerned about who locks them up as are hand-wringing liberals."

Mr Alexander, deputy chairman of the Law and Order Select Committee, called on National and New Zealand First to support changes to the Correction Bill that would allow continued use of private prisons.

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