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Why build a private prison when we have empty beds

PSA Media Release
8 March 2012
For Immediate Use

Why build a private prison when we have empty beds in public ones?

Today’s announcement that the Government is going ahead with plans to build a private prison at Wiri is beyond comprehension, says the PSA.

Crime rates are down, projected prison numbers are down by over 3,000 and we have 1,200 empty beds in prisons across the country. The last thing we need is a new 960 bed privately built and run prison.

“This Government is impacting on services to New Zealanders by cutting jobs right across the public sector, yet it’s prepared to spend $900 million to build and operate a prison that we don’t even need,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.

“Pressure is on other areas of the Justice system to make savings; every police district has been asked to cut budgets by 5 per cent and national headquarters and the police college have been asked to find 15 percent. This is not a time to throw around money that is badly needed in other areas.

“The so-called cost effectiveness that Finance Minister Bill English talks of can only be achieved by the contractor paying poor wages and employing less staff. Overseas studies have found that projected savings evaporated and that privately managed prisons scored bacly on security and maintaining order and control.

“The most efficient action to take is not to build a new private prison at Wiri and to put money into the Justice system where it can be most effectively used.

“Early intervention programmes are much cheaper than sending someone to prison.

“With Police moving resources into preventative crime and aiming at a 19 per cent drop in people passing through the justice system in the next few years, surely there’s a better investment for society than a prison we don’t need,” says Richard Wagstaff.


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