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Full prisons inquiry the only solution

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

29 March 2006

Full prisons inquiry the only solution

A full review of the prisons system is the only way the Government will convince the public it is serious about sorting out the very real problems in Corrections, says National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting on the announcement today of an independent review of the prisons construction budget blowout at Spring Hill and Otago prisons.

“I am not convinced that an inquiry into the construction costs of two prisons is going to restore the public’s confidence in the management of our prisons.

“For a start, there’s not much point holding a review into just two prisons when four contributed to the $490 million budget blow-out. Spring Hill and Otago contributed $259 million to the blowout, but Ngawha and Auckland Women’s contributed a further $231 million.

“There are many other very serious issues in our prisons system that need to be urgently looked at besides the construction blowout, like:

- Overcrowding, including the housing of prisoners in vans and in police and court cells, and predictions of continuing problems through to 2011.
- The hugely expensive and dangerous practice of flying prisoners around the country on public flights.
- Escapes from Rimutaka and Christchurch, and possible security implications for other prisons.
- Low staff morale, including a vote of ‘no confidence’ in management.
- Recruitment problems, and the suggestion of criminals being employed as guards.
- Operational problems, including issues surrounding non-compliance with parole.
- The availability of drugs, cellphones, and R-rated movies.
- Rehabilitation courses that increase reoffending.

“A wide-ranging inquiry into the operations and management of prisons, as called for by National, is the only way to sort out what is happening and to restore the public’s confidence in the system,” says Mr Power.

ENDS

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