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Prison closures nonsensical: Labour

Charles Chauvel
Justice Spokesperson

22 March 2012

Prison closures nonsensical: Labour

Closing regional prisons to concentrate resources on a new facility at Wiri is nonsensical, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Charles Chauvel.

The Department of Corrections today announced that Wellington and New Plymouth prisons will close, as will some units in Arohata, Rolleston, Tongariro/Rangipo and Waikeria prisons.

“Bill English and Anne Tolley intend to commit nearly $1bn over the next 25 years to a 960 bed prison at Wiri to be privately built and operated.

“This is despite prisoner numbers being 3000 below forecast, and 1200 prison beds across the country currently sitting empty,” Charles Chauvel said.

“This will see prisoners relocated away from families and communities, possibly jeopardising their rehabilitation.

“It makes no sense,” Charles Chauvel said.

"We should all be pleased that prisoner numbers have continued to fall. This makes it possible to shut down dilapidated institutions, and to refurbish Auckland Prison's East Division, which houses prisoners in maximum security, and Invercargill Prison's West Wing.

“A progressive programme within the Corrections sector that allows old institutions to close and provides for the modernisation of existing facilities is exactly the right thing to do.

"The wrong thing to do is to add unnecessary capacity to the Corrections system. It is especially irresponsible to do this by locking in a quarter of a century-long subsidy to private sector companies without having any way to forecast what on-going demand will be for prison beds over that period.

"It would make much more sense not to proceed with the Wiri spend, and to direct any new investment into upgrading and improving viable facilities," Charles Chauvel said.

ENDS

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