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Criminals as prison guards dangerous, stupid

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

16 January 2006

Criminals as prison guards dangerous, stupid

National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power, says a suggestion that convicted criminals are being considered for jobs as prison officers is a dangerous and stupid move.

He is commenting on a report that Corrections is considering hiring such people to help it find 600 new guards this year and 1,800 over the next four years.

“It is a dangerous move because it could jeopardise safety in our prisons. Who knows what old friendships might be revived between a guard and an inmate. Criminals associate with criminals.

“It is also a stupid move because it could lead to more personal grievance claims against the taxpayer.

“The guards’ union is worried, and rightly so. It would be nice to hear some concern coming from the Minister, but I’m not holding my breath.

“This is the latest in a long line of debacles in Corrections. Last year we had:

- Dangerous overcrowding problems that saw prisoners being kept in vans on public streets, and using showers in rugby clubrooms.

- An admission by the department that overcrowding problems will continue through till at least 2011.

- Serious assaults on guards and Parole Board members.

- Seven escapes.

- Design faults that let prisoners wander into staff areas at night.

- Drug confiscations.

- Huge cost overruns for new prisons.”

Mr Power says the public must be assured that management are on top of their game, and following the vote of no confidence in management at Manawatu Prison last week it is no wonder they are having problems recruiting people.

“This has got more to do with the perceptions of the department by those who might apply for jobs than it has, I suspect, to do with labour shortages.

“If they got their act together they just might see more people interested in applying to be prison guards. And it is Minister Damien O’Connor’s job to see they get their act together.”

ENDS

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