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Mt Eden to add to prisons budget blowout

Simon Power National Party Law & Order Spokesman

27 February 2006

Mt Eden to add to prisons budget blowout

Corrections Department documents on the state of Mt Eden Prison indicate that the Corrections budget blowout will be worse than first thought, says National's Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting on a department report released to him, which reveals squalid and substandard conditions at the 140-year-old prison, many of which cannot be fixed without more taxpayer money.

"This shows just how imperative an inquiry into Corrections is.

"We are already facing a construction budget blowout of hundreds of millions of dollars and now we have this report which clearly shows more money is needed to keep Mt Eden in anything like a reasonable state."

The report says Mt Eden is 'extremely inefficient to operate ... It is also substandard and unsafe in many respects and falls well short of the basic requirements for a modern corrections facility'.

"The report says Corrections could be exposed to litigation because of the conditions, which include a 'medium' risk of sewage flooding into the exercise yards, other unsanitary conditions, and serious non-compliance with building codes and standards, and fire safety, health and other safety requirements.

"The department says some of the work identified in the report has been done, but admits much cannot be fixed without Government approval - meaning more time and money.

"They claim they have spent $300,000 patching up some of the problems, but it is very hard to believe they have fixed up the worst of them, given that they are spending over $500,000 for each bed in the new prisons.

"If Corrections can say all those issues have been addressed for $300,000, I'd be interested to know why such productivity didn't extend to the building programme.

"The whole thing is a disaster. We have a muster that has hit an all-time high, a budget blowout of huge proportions, and now we have conditions at Mt Eden that could mean, to quote the report, a 'high likelihood of service failure, the consequences of which would be catastrophic.' "


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