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Corrections Bill soft on crims, tough on taxpayers

Corrections Bill soft on crims, tough on taxpayers

The Government's Corrections Bill is nothing but a piece of social engineering centred more on the rights of the prisoner than those of the victim or the community, says National's Corrections spokesman Tony Ryall.

"This Bill is simply another liberal wish list, devoid of all reality. National strongly opposes it and will be fighting it all the way.

"The Bill will make it illegal for the Government to contract prison management to private enterprise, a ban based on ideology rather than on any logic or evidence," says Mr Ryall.

"Private prisons provide a vital yardstick by which to measure the dominant public prison service. How else can we test the efficiency and effectiveness of government-run prisons if not through competition?

"The privately-run Auckland Central Remand Prison costs $43,000 a year per inmate, covering a mix of low to high-security inmates in a high-security environment. The public prison service costs $54,000 a year per minimum-security inmate and $72,000 a year per high-security inmate."

Mr Ryall also attacks the Bill's guidelines on the operations of the prison system, calling them "overly prescriptive, politically-correct and at risk of exposing taxpayers to litigation and expense."

"Requiring the Department to take into account cultural background, ethnic identity and language in managing prisoners is an invitation for the Courts to take a role in running the public prison system," he says.

And he questions the Bill's proposal for prisoners to access information and education.

"Prisoners will be entitled - not just permitted, but entitled - to access further education that will supposedly help his or her rehabilitation

"The Bill tries, but fails, to limit the cost of this new right. There's a risk this could lead prisoners to use the Courts to gain an expensive education at the taxpayers' expense.

"Hard-working New Zealanders will be furious if criminals can get a better education than their children, courtesy of their taxes. That is possible under this Bill," he says.

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