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Public ACRP opportunity for Corrections to deliver

Public ACRP an opportunity for Corrections Dept to deliver

The return today of New Zealand's only privately run prison to public sector management is an opportunity for the Corrections Department to prove it can deliver a first-class service, Green Party Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos says.

The Department took over management of Auckland Central Remand Prison from the GEO Group at midnight last night.

"The Green Party welcomes the handover today of the management of the Auckland Central Remand Prison to the public sector," Nandor says.

"I call on new Corrections Department CEO Barry Matthews to use this as an opportunity to deliver best prison practice. There is no reason why the public sector can't provide a better service than the private and now is the time for Mr Matthews to demonstrate this.

"The Greens have always acknowledged that under the previous management of Dom Karauria, and with its excellent staff, ACRP was well run by the private provider. However we've also always been aware that this is not the norm for private prisons around the world.

"International experience shows widespread abuse and poor conditions in many privately run prisons. ACRP was clearly a loss leader designed to be a foot in the door for the private prison conglomerates. It is extremely unlikely that any further private prisons here would all be run as well as ACRP was by Mr Karauria and his team.

"But the principle issue is that prisons must be run by the public sector. As one of the most tangible manifestations of state power, they must be fully accountable to the people of New Zealand. A profit-driven service is ultimately only accountable to its overseas shareholders.

"There have been some clear cases of this lack of accountability in Australia. For example ACM, the predecessor to Geo, placed a contractual obligation upon some of their staff to not provide information to the judiciary, which would have the effect of inhibiting the investigation of abuse and mismanagement.

"It must also be remembered that private prisons can have a corrupting influence on the political system, in that they create a profit motive to the lobby for longer custodial sentences.

"The Green Party have taken a number of steps to increase accountability in the public sector through changes to the Corrections Act and a written commitment to the establishment of an independent prison inspectorate from the Labour-led Government," Nandor says.

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