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O’Connor presides over prisons shambles

Simon Power - National Party Law & Order Spokesman

22 November 2005

O’Connor presides over prisons shambles

National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power, says Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor clearly has no answers to the shambles confronting New Zealand’s overcrowded prisons.

“His own department is painting a very, very dark picture indeed, and he seems incapable of doing anything about it.

“We have a serious overcrowding problem which the department says will continue till at least 2011 and can be solved only by building more prisons, but this Minister says he will not do that.

“He says he is ‘focused’ on reducing prisoner numbers and re-offending, but won’t say how that will happen. He must realise that with tougher sentencing laws the inmate population is going to get bigger, not smaller

“And, as long as he refuses to consider building new prisons, prisoners will continue to be held in police cells and in vans on public streets, and be showered in sports clubrooms.

“Then there is the prediction by his own department of significant new pressure being put on staff and the 1,800 extra staff they will have to find to handle the risky accommodation arrangements.

“And if we come out of all that with only a couple of lawsuits from prisoners claiming ill treatment, then we will be doing very well.

“What a shambles.

“Damien O’Connor must pull his head out of the sand and work urgently on finding solutions. We need more prisons urgently. Greater reliance of home detention, as the Minister has suggested, falls well short. Talking to the private sector about building more prisons would be a good place to start.

“He must act before things get out of control. The sort of situation foreseen by his own department are breeding grounds for big trouble in prisons,” says Mr Power.

ENDS


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