Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Response to Stephen Franks article, Dominion Post

Response to Stephen Franks article, Dominion Post

I must take issue with Stephen Franks' flights of fantasy as expressed in his article on the privately managed Auckland Central Remand Prison. (Dominion Post, February 25)

Mr Franks' claims about the experience of private prisons in California, and a separate news story about private prisons in the same edition of the DomPost, need to be corrected.

He compares me with Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is flattering in a way, because he is a testament to bodybuilding.

But, like this comparison, when it comes to the issue of private prisons, I feel I must distinguish myth from reality.

MYTH ONE: On a per inmate basis, the privately run Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP), is cheaper to operate than the Public Prisons Service (PPS).

REALITY: Public is cheaper than private. It costs $36,000 per year to manage a remand inmate in a public prison. ACRP receives $42,000 per remand inmate for its operating budget.

These figures "compare apples with apples". The figures cover staff, food, power bills etc. If building costs, including depreciation are added, the comparison becomes even less favourable to the private sector

The $72,000 per inmate cost quoted by Mr Franks is an average for maximum security sentenced inmates, and does not give an accurate comparison of the cost of managing remand inmates, who are in prison awaiting trial, either publicly or privately.

MYTH TWO: ACRP appointed the first Maori manager of a prison in New Zealand (Dom Karauria), and offers better cultural programmes to meet the needs of inmates.

REALITY: The Department of Corrections had appointed Maori or Pacific Island site managers at three prisons before the ACRP appointment. These were at Hawkes Bay Prison, Auckland Prison at Paremoremo, and New Plymouth Prison. Ohura Prison was also the first prison in New Zealand to be managed by a Maori woman.

ACRP's much feted Maori consultative group was established by the Department before the private provider was even chosen. This approach has carried through to the extensive involvement of Maori in planning for the four new facilities about to open.

Public prisons offer a range of programmes based on the needs of inmates, be it Maori Focus Units in five prisons, the Faith-Based Unit at Rimutaka Prison, and the Fautua Pasefika policies.

The Public Prisons Service is working to reduce re-offending by all inmates, be they Maori, Christian, Pacific Island, white collar fraudsters, or sex offenders.

MYTH THREE: The Government's policy on privately-managed prisons is some sort of "payoff" for the unions representing prison staff.

REALITY: This allegation from Mr Franks is just plain silly.

The Labour Party fought both the 1999 and 2002 elections with the private prison policy as part of its manifesto. It is based on Labour's philosophical belief that it is the role of Government agencies, not the commercial sector, to incarcerate offenders.

Depriving people of their liberty should not be an activity that enables a profit to be made. The experience in the United States has shown that private prison companies are vocal in the campaigns for longer prison sentences, because of the potential commercial opportunities from having more inmates locked up for longer.

As for the industrial relations climate in public prisons, collective contracts were signed last year with two unions, the PSA and CANZ. The agreements are set to run for three years.

There are currently no industrial negotiations taking place within the Public Prisons Service.

MYTH FOUR: The Public Prisons Service is in "disarray" and a new approach is needed.

REALITY: The staff turnover rate at ACRP is higher than that in the Public Prisons Service. Otherwise, it does OK but is not exceptional. For example, its rate of positive drug tests last year, at 10%, placed it around the middle of the NZ pack (five public prisons did better).

The largely state-operated New Zealand system costs less and, on most indictators, performs better than most comparable overseas systems.

Department of Corrections staff do a great job keeping the community safe, managing inmates in difficult circumstances, and preparing them to rehabilitate themselves back into the community on their release.

ACRP operates under strict state monitoring to a well-specified contract. It delivers, by and large, what it is asked to. Like most public prisons it has had its successes and its failures but its performance, good or bad, is not why it is about to leave private management.

Labour believes that locking people up is the job of government, not the private sector. It's as simple as that.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Reaction

Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced

 

Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>

ALSO:


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>

ALSO:

Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>

ALSO:

Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>

ALSO:

Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election