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670 extra beds by October to manage inmate numbers

21 April 2005 Media Statement

670 extra beds by October to manage record inmate numbers

An extra 670 beds will be available by October to enable the Corrections Department to manage record inmate numbers, Corrections Minister Paul Swain said today.

Mr Swain today released details of the construction programme that shows 320 new beds at existing prisons will be built within the next six months. In addition, the Northland Region Corrections Facility will be at its 350-bed capacity by October.

He said these beds would ease pressure on the prison system and will be followed by more than 1400 new beds by 2007.

Cabinet approved funding of $125 million for a total of 493 beds to be added to existing sites late last year when revised Justice Ministry forecasts showed that inmate numbers would continue to increase faster than previously thought. This is in addition to the $700 million-plus set aside for four new prisons that will add more than 1600 beds.

The extra capacity is needed to cope with increasing inmate numbers due to tougher bail, sentencing and parole laws introduced by the government since it came to power in 1999.

Of the capacity being added to existing sites, a 40-bed unit at Hawke's Bay Prison opened this week (see table on next page for construction programme).

"The Corrections Department has handled the higher-than expected inmate numbers well. The department added 600 beds last year but it was always anticipated that the system would be under pressure again this year because of the time it takes to build new cells.

"The extra beds will become available throughout the year and will enable the Corrections Department to manage inmate numbers. However, until all the beds are available, things will be tight and some police and court cells will be needed."

"When all of this construction is complete, the country's prison capacity will have risen by 2109 beds – an increase of nearly a third and at a cost of more than $800 million. This will be sufficient to meet the projected increase in inmate numbers."

Construction schedule for added capacity at existing sites:

Prison Number of beds Completion date
Hawkes Bay 40 April
Hawkes Bay 20 June
Wanganui 20 June
Wanganui 120 September
Christchurch Men's 60 September
Christchurch Women's 40 September
Rimutaka 20 September
Tongariro/Rangipo 23 March 06
Rimutaka 150 June 06

New prison construction:

Prison Number of beds Completion date
Northland 350 Opened March 05
Auckland Women's 286 April 06
Otago 330 January 07
Spring Hill 650 May 07

ENDS

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