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Labour's bad planning, budget blowouts hit prisons

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

21 November 2007

Labour's bad planning, budget blowouts hit prisons

Bad planning and budget blowouts are forcing the Corrections Department to keep prisoners in cells for much longer than normal, says National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

"Corrections should admit that the early lockdowns at Rimutaka and other prisons in the Wellington region this week are caused by staff shortages that are a direct result of Labour's bad planning and a reported budget blowout.

"The Justice Department has never got the prisoner forecast right, and Corrections has blown every budget they've ever looked at.

"So now they don't have enough guards to cover, so they have to lock everyone down - it's as simple as that.

"Right now, the prison population, at 8,200, is 300 above the forecast, and that has caught them unprepared.

"As for the reported budget blowout - you can take your pick how that happened:

* The $490 million prisons construction budget blowout. * An $11 million landscaping bill. * $1.7 million in staff bonuses.

"The problem is that when prisoners are locked down for longer, or are in crowded conditions, the number of complaints rise - and that means more prisoners claiming for compensation and the potential for more taxpayer payouts.

"And, of course, having prisoners locked down for longer will do nothing to allay the concerns of the Ombudsmen, who said in 2005 that a culture of idleness exists in our prisons.

"More claims for compensation are not the sort of news taxpayers need to hear, but it's happening because, under Labour, bad planning and cavalier spending by Corrections has been allowed to go unchecked."


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