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Prison crisis: what now, Minister?

National Law & Order spokesman

27 September 2004

Prison crisis: what now, Minister?

The prison crisis has got a lot worse now that the Government has failed in its last-ditch bid to expand 'double bunking', says National's Law and Order spokesman, Tony Ryall.

He is commenting after prison officers turned down a shift allowance proposal which would have allowed double bunking in six of the country's prisons.

"New Zealanders should be worried - there is a real risk of more prisoner compensation claims because of this," Mr Ryall says.

"The justice system is crumbling around this Government. Prison managers say they have few options left and that further negotiations are unlikely.

"All the Government has is hope but no action. Corrections Minister Swain has pinned everything on double bunking, but that has failed so what will he do now?

"He has known about this crisis for months and has done nothing to fix it.

"The Government is apparently relying on a lull in admissions and a large-scale Christmas remission or early release to free up beds. This is foolish and will lead to more crime.

"Recruitment is also failing. Official Ministry of Justice papers point to courts delays as a major reason for the expanding inmate population.

"National says the Government should get back to the negotiating table, rapidly open mothballed beds, and speed up the courts to get the remand numbers down," Mr Ryall says.


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