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Pressure on prisons a shameful Labour legacy

Hon Judith Collins

Minister of Corrections
16 December 2008 Media Release

Pressure on prisons a shameful Labour legacy

Ongoing pressure on capacity at New Zealand’s prisons is testament to failed corrections policies under the former Labour government, Corrections Minister Hon Judith Collins says.

In a briefing paper to Ms Collins as new Minister of Corrections, the Department of Corrections identifies two key challenges: ongoing pressure on prison capacity, and strong growth in the community offender population.

The current strong growth in the prison population began in 2003 when the prison population stood at less than 6000, the briefing paper says.

Although the introduction of new community sentences has had an impact on the prison population, it is forecast to rise to around 10,700 by 2016.

“An immediate concern is the prospect that existing prison beds will be exhausted by mid-2010,” the briefing paper says.

Ms Collins says that for years the Labour Government denied that another new prison needed to be built, and this briefing shows that the officials’ advice was being ignored.

The previous government’s attempts to deal with this problem by putting more people on community-based sentences has helped to stabilise the prison population but has stretched the resources of the Probation Service.

“The pressure on prison capacity and the Community Probation Service are shameful examples of Labour’s bad planning in the Corrections sector,” Ms Collins says.

“I am looking forward to working with the Department of Corrections to implement initiatives, including boosting the number of prisoners learning industry-based skills and doubling those receiving drug and alcohol treatment,” Ms Collins says.

“The Department of Corrections has to manage the most difficult members of society, and its focus must remain on improving both the safety of the public, and the safety and security of its frontline staff.”

Briefing for the incoming Corrections Minister 2008: http://beehive.govt.nz/sites/all/files/Corrections_BIM.pdf

ENDS

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