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Cost more important than safety for remand

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

3 May 2006

Cost more important than safety for remand prisoners

A recommendation to release remand prisoners on electronic surveillance is more about cost cutting than it is about public safety, says National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

The recommendation is made in a leaked memo by a very experienced prison manager, which Mr Power has made public today.

The document says to ‘significantly alleviate operational costs and the constant media attention’ … ‘there is no real reason why electronic surveillance could not be considered as an option for those remandees who are unlikely to receive a custodial sentence’.

“This document does not mention public safety once, rather concentrating on saving money and avoiding negative publicity associated with overcrowded prisons.

“That a prisoner is ‘unlikely’ to receive a custodial sentence is not enough assurance. This document says about 50% of remand prisoners are not sentenced to prison, but how do we tell which ones are not guilty? How do we tell which ones we should let roam free?

“The sort of people who are remanded in custody at present are those who are likely to re-offend, are considered flight risks, or who may intimidate witnesses – which is why they are denied bail.

“What’s more, judges can already remand people either in custody or on bail, so they don’t need a further option. Accused who are held in custody are there for a reason.

“It seems to me this is a very risky business just for the sake of easing fiscal pressure and media attention.”

ENDS

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