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Private prison management ban step backwards

Private prison management ban huge step backwards - Iwi

A board representing six Northern Iwi today welcomed growing opposition to clauses in a Government Bill seeking to ban any private management of New Zealand prisons.

Iwi Whanui O Tamaki Makaurau represents Ngati Whatua O Orakei, Te Kawerau A Maki, Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki, Ngati Paoa, Ngati Te Ata and Te Waiohua in a formal relationship with New Zealand's only privately managed prison, Auckland Central Remand (ACRP).

"Auckland Central Remand Prison is quite rightly regarded as the most innovative, effective and culturally safe prison in New Zealand history," said Iwi Whanui Chair Te Warena Taua.

"Like the increasing number of politicians and civic leaders, we strongly believe that removing the ACRP management contract, and preventing any further like it, represents the biggest step backwards in terms of prison management, particularly in the areas of inmate management and rehabilitation."

Mr Taua said the clause in the Corrections Bill seeking to prohibit any future private management of prisons, and to prevent any renewal of ACRP's current contract, was an ideological position that is contrary to all the evidence.

"Nobody in this debate is arguing for across-the-board private management of our prisons, but we believe we must encourage innovation and excellence by allowing the very best organisations to manage our prisons.

"This is precisely what happened at ACRP. The current prison management, Australasian Correctional Management, tendered for the contract against the Public Prison Service and won the contract because they clearly demonstrated that they could do a better job. And so it has proven to be."

Mr Taua said giving the Department of Corrections an exclusive monopoly to manage prisons would further encourage the sluggishness and complacency that has characterised New Zealand prisons for too long.

He said that in terms of overdue reform of New Zealand's prison system, these clauses in the Bill were of the most importance.

"The only experience New Zealand has had of private prison management has been a huge success on every single front. Auckland Central Remand Prison has set previously unthinkable new standards and is forcing the Department of Corrections to finally start lifting its own game.

"The management of ACRP has formed a genuine partnership with local Maori that we have never seen before. Maori are consulted on all aspects of the prison management, including the appointment of New Zealand's first ever Maori General Manager.

"The results in terms of the management and rehabilitation of Maori inmates, in particular, represents the most exciting progress we have ever seen in a New Zealand prison. The ACRP experience is delivering the most inspiring results for inmates, their families and the community this prison serves," said Mr Taua.

"We cannot understand why the Government wants to take this away. We urge Government to reconsider."

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