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Govt Continues To Ignore Evidence Against Prison Privatisation

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Govt Continues To Ignore Evidence Against Prison Privatisation

"The government is pressing ahead with privatising prisons despite evidence showing private prisons cost more and deliver a reduced service," says PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff.

Today Finance Minister Bill English told the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure: "There is a range of opportunities for more private sector participation in prisons - from the current approach where input is limited to construction, right through to designing, financing, building, maintaining and operating facilities."

Mr English added: "We've asked Corrections to look at alternatives to conventional procurement for delivering new prison capacity, including a new prison. We're happy to proceed with that if the case stacks up, with decisions taken early next year."

"The government has already introduced a Bill to allow private companies to manage private prisons," says Richard Wagstaff.

"Now Bill English is saying there may be a decision early next year that could involve a private company running a prison."

"This is alarming when experience in New Zealand and overseas shows that private prisons are more expensive and provide a worse service," says Richard Wagstaff.

The United States Bureau of Justice Assistance has found that cost-savings promised by private prisons "have simply not materialized."

In September last year, figures from the National Crime Prevention Council, showed inmates released from private prisons in the United States had higher re-offending rates (33%) than those released from public prisons (30%).

"We know that it cost an Australian company more to run the Auckland Remand Prison from 2000 to 2005 than if Corrections had continued running it,"* says Richard Wagstaff. "

"This is despite the company providing a reduced service by refusing to admit prisoners after 6.30pm if they arrived late from court or on a transfer from another prison."

"We know that privately-run Peterborough prison was ranked the worst prison in England and Wales last year."

"It had a poor record for organisational effectiveness, decency and reducing re-offending."

"In the face off all the evidence showing the negative impact of privatising prisons the government remains determined to purse this failed policy."

"The only explanation appears to be that it's blindly pursuing a free market ideology," says Richard Wagstaff.

*Figures from the Corrections Department show that it cost the Australian company that managed the Auckland Remand Prison from 2000 to 2005, $43,000 per inmate to run the prison. Corrections operating costs per remand prisoner were $36,000. The company was contracted by a National-led government.

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