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Downscale of public prisons for private ventures a bad move

22 March 2012

Downscale of public prisons for private ventures a bad move

The Government closing public prisons while funding the building of private facilities at Wiri in Auckland by a group of foreign companies will be bad for New Zealand, the Green Party says.

Green Party corrections spokesperson David Clendon said the Government’s shift to private prisons poses several serious issues for New Zealand.

“International research shows staff and prisoners are at greater risk of harm in private as opposed to public prisons. We need to ensure these people are safe rather than put them at greater risk.

“Other research shows rehabilitation is also less likely in private prisons.

“If we want a well-functioning safe society, we need to ensure our justice system works efficiently in the rehabilitation of criminals.

“I acknowledge that some of the older prisons are in dire need of upgrading, but privatising is not the answer.

“The cost to the public is the same whether it’s owned by the Government or the private sector, so why would we trust rehabilitating prisoners to private companies measuring themselves in dollar terms instead of its level of public good?

“Rather than hocking off our prison service to private investors, the Government should ensure adequate provision of services and facilities. We need suitable accommodation for young offenders, rather than putting them up in motels, and we need drug and alcohol treatment for addicted prisoners. It would also be smart to provide stable accommodation for inmates after release, not just better prison cells.”

The Department of Corrections today announced the closure of two prisons, and the downscaling of others.

Mr Clendon said it would result in many job losses.

“This must be a very stressful time for prison staff and their families, so the Government needs to quickly make clear how many people are going to be affected.

“It’s a poor decision in times of high unemployment and rising living costs.

“Reinvesting in progressive solutions, instead of perpetuating already-failed practices, would provide New Zealanders with the outcomes they rightly want and expect,” Mr Clendon said.

Further information:
Metiria Turei blog posts including links to research: http://blog.greens.org.nz/2009/03/25/private-prisons-are-not-cheaper/, http://blog.greens.org.nz/2009/03/12/geo-group-record-in-private-prisons-very-very-bad/

ENDS

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