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Cosgrove & Ririnui: Cosgrove, Ririnui: Collins Heading Slavishly Down Ideological Track On Prisons

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Clayton Cosgrove
Clayton Cosgrove

16 February 2009 - Running prisons is core government business in the same way as Police and Defence, Labour's law and order spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove and former Associate Corrections Minister Mita Ririnui say.

Clayton Cosgrove said Corrections Minister Judith Collins' plan to draw up legislation to allow private companies to tender for jail management contracts was based on pure ideology.

"That is proven by the fact that she says she's going to visit private jails in Australia to see how they work. I would have thought it was basic good sense to do this research before committing to a course of action, not committing first and then trying to make the facts fit later," Clayton Cosgrove said.

"Her decision makes even less sense because National won't ask private companies to build prisons. Taxpayers will still build them. Private companies will simply manage them and make money out of taxpayers in the process."

Clayton Cosgrove said Ms Collins' claim that private companies can provide better management and programmes and do the job more cheaply is "an ideological myth. She says it cost $42,000 per inmate when a private company ran the Auckland remand centre compared to $52,000 in a public prison, but the $52,000 average includes maximum security costs.

"The equivalent public prison remand cost was $36,000 when private costs were $42,000. Our experience shows private prisons cost taxpayers more." Mita Ririnui said Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples' rejection of National claims that the Maori Party supported Ms Collin's plans, raised further questions about whether National was really consulting the Maori Party or simply trying to dictate its policy. "Maori make up about half of the prison population and will clearly be vulnerable if private management compromises on rehabilitation to cut costs." Clayton Cosgrove and Mita Ririnui said: "Depriving people of their liberty should not be a profit-making activity. It should be about maximising public safety first of all, costing taxpayers as little as possible, and addressing rehabilitation."

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