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Musical prisoners takes its toll

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

7 August 2006

Musical prisoners takes its toll

The increasing number of prisoners being shuffled around the country's prisons because of overcrowding has been accompanied by a sharp rise in complaints, says National's Law and Order spokesman, Simon Power.

Figures released to Mr Power by the Minister of Corrections reveal that in the space of a year, prisoner complaints relating to transfers have jumped by a third – from 1,002 in 2004/05 to 1,315 in 2005/06.

"The Corrections Department's method of coping with overcrowding is to ferry inmates around the country in an attempt to fit them all in.

“In the first six months of the 2005/06 year, 6,854 offenders were transferred, compared to 7,160 for the entire 2000/01 year.

“This practice of flying inmates around the country, Con Air style, is costing taxpayers more than $100,000 a month, based on the first six months of the 2005/06 year ($684,128) – almost twice as much as it has previously spent in entire years.

“But it's not just a matter of cost. Attempts to rehabilitate these inmates are disrupted or even halted when they are arbitrarily shunted off to another prison.

“And more prisoner complaints could mean that more inmates sue for compensation.

“The Government promised a new Prisoner Complaints Authority to head off such claims, but recently we had the Minister tell a select committee that ‘I have to say that personally I don't give it the highest priority.’

“With that kind of attitude we can be sure that the number of complaints and claims will escalate even further under this Government,” says Mr Power.


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