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Old Dunedin Prison Will Close For Good

Dunedin's old-style slop-bucket prison built in 1895 will close and be replaced with a modern regional facility, Minister of Corrections Matt Robson announced today.

"Old prisons like Dunedin and Mt Eden in Auckland are past their use-by date. The nature of crime has changed since 1895 and we need new facilities to reflect that.

"That means safe and secure prisons, it means regional facilities and it means returning inmates to society who will not re-offend," says Matt Robson.

"Dunedin people need to have a say on what happens to the old prison. It's an historic building with a past, but at the moment an unknown future."

A new-style men's regional facility will open in Otago in 2006. The 330-bed facility will replace the old 59-bed prison in Dunedin.

Matt Robson today invited people to put forward their sites for consideration. His department intends to identify shortlisted sites by early 2002.

"92% of New Zealanders voted for tougher sentences in the 1999 referendum. That's why this government is introducing new legislation to ensure that the dangerous few stay in prison for longer. To do that we need more cells.

"Regional prisons which keep inmates close to their families are most successful at reducing re-offending. We know that for a fact. 115 people from Otago are currently serving their sentences in Invercargill, Christchurch and even the North Island. Fewer than one-third of Otago offenders serve their sentence near home.

"Most people in prisons are there for less serious offences: property offences, driving offences, and most are young. My new report, About Time shows that 'early intervention works best, costs less.' Our new prisons need to reflect this if we are to ultimately lower the crime rate," says Matt Robson.

Ends

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