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Jailing Is Job For State, Not Private Enterprise

Jailing People Is Job For State, Not Private Enterprise

Locking people up in jails is a job for the state, not for private businesses whose prime motivation will inevitably be to make money out of a PPP venture, says Labour Law and Order spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove.

Commenting on today’s announcement by Infrastructure Minister Bill English of a PPP to design, build and operate a new prison at Wiri, Clayton Cosgrove said: “Labour paved the way for the successful implementation of PPPs, but while such ventures might have real merit in terms of building new roads, for example, the private sector cannot be allowed a role in operating prisons in this country.

“Labour doesn’t care who builds or designs a prison, but the state should run them. Punishment and rehabilitation are a core function of government. By transferring such a core function, even with so-called safeguards, to the private sector, the Government is shirking its responsibility for the safety of staff and the community if things go wrong.”

Clayton Cosgrove said Mr English’s claim that a PPP would offer better value for money could not be substantiated in terms of past history with a privately-run prison in New Zealand. “This is a blatant example of ideology. National is rejecting the advice of its own advisers. The last time National tried a privately-run prison it was actually more expensive to run than it was when it was in the hands of the state.

“There is no evidence to suggest privately-operated prisons are better, safer or cheaper to run. Public prisons are fiscally accountable to the state and taxpayers. Privately-run prisons are accountable firstly to shareholders, and this poses a real risk to staff safety, quality and work conditions, as well as rehabilitation services,” Clayton Cosgrove said.

“Overseas experience has shown disastrous problems in privately-run prisons, ranging from bribery, corruption, increased violence and drug abuse, through to suicides.

“The Government’s aim, for the community’s sake, should be to reduce crime, improve rehabilitation of prisoners, and reduce the number of prisoners,” Clayton Cosgrove said.

“National is certainly failing on the first count. The crime rate is going up, and a privately-run prison, which will make more money the more prisoners there are, and the less it spends on trying to turn the lives of prisoners around, hardly suggests that either recidivism or the prisoner muster will reduce.

“Labour strongly believes that we need prisons to lock people up who are a threat to the community, but you need a fence at the top of the cliff as well as an ambulance at the bottom. National has no commitment to services designed to keep people from re-offending or out of prison in the first place. The closure of the Te Hurihanga youth justice facility in Hamilton earlier this year proved that convincingly.”


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