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New Auckland Prison to improve safety

New Auckland Prison to improve safety, rehabilitation and mental health treatment

The $300 million redevelopment at Auckland Prison will provide better rehabilitation and mental health treatment for New Zealand’s most challenging prisoners in a secure environment that is safer for everyone, Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith says.

The facility, located beside the original East Division of the prison, was officially opened at Paremoremo in Auckland this morning.

“As New Zealand’s only specialist maximum security facility for male prisoners, staff at Auckland Prison manage our country’s most complex, volatile and dangerous people. I want them to be working in the safest environment possible,” Ray Smith said.

“The old maximum security prison was built 50 years ago, and was designed for a very different time and purpose. Technology has changed, as has the way we deliver rehabilitation and support to prisoners with mental health issues. The old units were well past their use-by date and not fit-for purpose.

“Safety and security have been the top priority in this redevelopment. We now have a modern facility that will ensure significantly safer, better conditions for staff, prisoners and visitors,” Ray Smith said.

New safety and security features include:

· Biometric assisted entry and exit system

· Dual secure covered walkways to allow secure and efficient movements throughout the facility

· Single cells with each unit having its own industry, treatment, training, education and health services areas to reduce the number of prisoner and staff movements;

· A single point of entry to allow staff increased oversight of visitors and improved detection of contraband; and

· Expanded medical facilities and health services, including on-site blood dialysis treatment, to allow for efficient treatment and fewer external hospital visits.

The redeveloped facility also includes a purpose-built mental health treatment unit, Kia Mau Kia Matāra. The unit will provide 50 beds for those with significant acute mental health needs, with an additional 18 beds in safe cells for those requiring the most care.

An Intervention and Support Team made up of health, custodial and other specialised staff will provide on-site treatment and support.

“More than 90 per cent of prisoners have a lifetime diagnosis of mental health or substance abuse issues, and many of those with the most complex needs are managed here at Auckland Prison. It’s critical we have the right people providing the right treatment in a safe, therapeutic and humane environment,” Ray Smith said.

“The prison will also have a new operating model that places an even greater emphasis on industry, treatment and learning.

This includes providing each prisoner with a clear rehabilitation and reintegration plan, tailored to their specific needs, to ensure they are addressing the causes of their offending and gaining the skills they need to not re-offend,” Ray Smith said.

Total capacity will remain at 680 beds, with the new facility housing up to 260 prisoners.

Final checks are being completed to ensure all safety and security requirements are met before the prison becomes operational. The first prisoners are expected to be transferred into the facility from September.

ENDS

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