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Labour ignores Treasury on private prisons

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

26 June 2006

Labour ignores Treasury on private prisons

National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power, has today revealed that Treasury has consistently advocated private management of prisons but Labour continues to ignore its advice.

Two reports from 1999 show that Treasury has consistently advocated for private prisons because overseas experience indicates they offer cost advantages, and one report shows that even Corrections was keen to explore the option:

- ‘Discussed issue of private financing and management of prisons. Corrections are open to exploring the option, however want a mandate from Ministers to do so before they go out and do any work …’
- ‘Treasury has encouraged the Department to consider investigating the viability of contracting out the design, construction, ownership, and management of the proposed new prison in Northland.
- ‘Overseas experience indicates that contracting out prison operations reduces costs, both in the design and construction and in the management of prisons. The creation of a competitive market for prison operations would also provide the Public Prisons Service with an incentive to increase efficiency.’

Furthermore, a February 2006 report shows Treasury has not wavered in its belief since the contract at Auckland Central Remand Prison ended last year:

- ‘… there could be some gains from introducing contestability into the supply of correctional services through … contracting out some services. The gains would be from contestability in building and operating facilities and through encouraging innovation in reducing recidivism’.

Mr Power says the private management of ACRP proved the concept has advantages.

“The five-year ACRP experiment resulted in an enlightened approach to incarceration and rehabilitation.

“ACRP offered more and better education opportunities, and had staff dedicated to behavioural assessment, physical training, sentence planning and crime prevention. They were so successful that Corrections adopted many of the programmes.

“But Labour continue to ignore this evidence simply because they are ideologically opposed to private management.

“In light of the huge problems in the publicly run system – including the $490 million construction budget blowout – the sooner we embrace private management of some of our prisons, the better,” says Mr Power.

ENDS

See... Treasury documents received under OIA (2 x pdf’s):
http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/0606/Treasury_1999.pdf
http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/0606/CorrectionsTreasury_2006.pdf

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