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Private prisons cost more & provide worse service

PSA MEDIA RELEASE
March 9, 2009

For Immediate Use

Private prisons cost more and provide worse service

“Why is the government planning to have private companies run our prisons when all the evidence shows this will cost taxpayers more and provide a worse service?” asks Public Service Association National Secretary Richard Wagstaff

Corrections Minister Judith Collins says steps are being taken to enable private companies to tender for prison management contracts. She says the government wants to have the option available to have private companies running prisons.

“The last time a private company managed a New Zealand prison it cost taxpayers more and provided a reduced service,” says Richard Wagstaff.

Figures from the Corrections Department show that it cost the Australian company, that managed the Auckland Remand Prison from 2000 to 2005, $43,000 per inmate to run the prison while Corrections operating costs per remand prisoner were $36,000.  

The Australian company, contracted by a National-led Government in the late 1990s, also provided a reduced service.

It refused to admit prisoners after 6.30pm when its day shift staff went home. Now Corrections are running the prison again, prisoners are admitted at night to accommodate those that arrive late from courts or after being transported from another prison.

“The government is also turning a blind eye to the problems Britain is having with its privately-run prisons,” says Richard Wagstaff.

Last year a survey leaked to the media, showed that 10 of Britain’s 11 private prisons ranked in the bottom quarter of a league table covering 132 prisons. The privately-managed prisons scored badly on security and maintaining order and control.

Peterborough prison, which has been privately managed for three years, was ranked as the worst prison in England and Wales. It had a poor record for organisational effectiveness, decency and reducing re-offending.

“The Prison Governors Association in Britain is now urging the British government to re-think its policy of allowing private companies to run prisons,” says Richard Wagstaff.   

“Yet our government is pressing ahead with privatising our prison management.”

“Why? Because it appears to be blinded by ideology that won’t allow it to see the costs and risks involved in privatising a core public service.”

“One fact the government can’t dispute is that prisons run by private companies are inherently more expensive than public prisons because they have to make a profit,” says Richard Wagstaff.

ENDS

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