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Corrections use of police and court cells dropping

Fri, 12 Nov 2004

Corrections' use of police and court cells dropping

Less than 40 inmates in police and court cells

---------------------------------

Corrections Minister Paul Swain today said less than 40 inmates were being housed in police and court cells due to the easing of the prison population.

Of these, less than 20 are being housed in court cells.

"This compares to the peak in September when more than 240 inmates were accommodated in police and court cells.

"As a result of this, the Corrections Department is unlikely to need court cells to accommodate inmates by next week. Inmate numbers traditionally ease at this time of year."

Paul Swain said record inmate numbers, which peaked at 6969 in September, had been managed effectively by the Corrections Department.

Police and court cells were used only when the prison capacity was exceeded. All cells used met international standards and the length of time inmates spent in them was limited. Police cells are commonly used in the short-term to accommodate inmates even when there is no pressure on the prison population.

Paul Swain said the Corrections Department had added an extra 600 beds through using a 4 per cent operational buffer, increased double-bunking and reopening the Larch unit at Tongariro/Rangipo.

A 40-bed unit at Wanganui reopened yesterday after refurbishment.

Cabinet last week approved funding for an additional construction on existing prison sites that will add 213 beds to the country's prison capacity over the next two years.

Four new prisons opening over the next three years will increase capacity by more than 1500 beds.

"It appears that the pressure we were under in September has passed," he said.

ENDS


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