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Migrants Not The Way To Solve Prison Shortages

22 October 2004

Migrants Not The Way To Solve Prison Shortages

So said New Zealand first spokesperson for corrections Ron Mark today following news that the Corrections Department is set to recruit staff from Samoa to reduce the shortfall in the number of prison officers.

“Surely we can find good honest Kiwis and pay them a decent wage, rather than bringing in cheap overseas labour ?” asked Mr Mark.

“The fact is, Corrections have been running a full scale recruitment campaign this year in addition to another last year,’ said Mr Mark. “From nearly 3000 information packs sent out this year alone, only 98 officers have been engaged. That won’t even make a scratch in the current shortfall of 300, let alone the extra 1500 needed by next year.

“The question is, why don’t people want to work for Corrections? Could it be the low pay for what can be a difficult and often times dangerous job? Could it be reports of the abuse of officers that have resulted in many Employment Court cases and bad publicity?

“Or could it be the incompetence of the management or the Corrections Minister that is giving Corrections a bad name? Management who have overlooked the abuses of inmates and officers, who have driven wage rates down, who have contributed to the current shortages of remand places through mismanagement and shortsightedness and whose rehabilitation programmes have proven to be dismal, expensive failures.

“Might we suggest that the first thing to do is get rid of the heads of departments, get rid of the senior executives and replace them with pragmatic managers who are prepared to look after their staff. “Perhaps this is also an opportune time for Corrections to re-think the decision to take back Auckland Central Remand Prison from private management and instead use it as a model of how a prison could be better run,” suggested Mr Mark.

“Failing that we are going to have to start giving prison officers and their prisoner charges lessons in Samoan.”

ENDS

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