Prison closures prove private prisons not needed

Press Release – Public Service Association

The Public Service Association is urging the government to rethink its privatisation agenda for prisons in light of today’s announcement on prison closures. Prison closures prove private prisons not needed

The Public Service Association is urging the government to rethink its privatisation agenda for prisons in light of today’s announcement on prison closures.

The Department of Corrections has announced that New Plymouth and Wellington Prisons will close entirely while parts of Waikeria, Tongariro, Arohata and Rolleston will also be shut down.

The PSA says while the closures were expected and the prison system does need modernising and upgrading, it’s important to remember that many staff will be affected.

“Change processes are always difficult and while staff are being offered the opportunity to transfer, in an area like New Plymouth that will be difficult given there is no other prison in the region to move to. The prison closure there will impact greatly on staff and their families, as well as the local community,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.

“We would hope this will be the last major shakeup of the country’s prison service but are concerned that the government has a clear agenda for trying to lessen the role of the public sector in favour of private providers.”

“The government is pushing ahead with building a private prison at Wiri which is completely unnecessary. Crime rates are down, and there is much lower prison muster forecast. There is plenty of capacity in the public system and the last thing we need is a new 960 bed privately built and run prison,” he says.

“If Wiri opens we could see more and more offenders being put in private prisons even though there is capacity in the public system, because the government won’t want to pay to have half-full prisons run by contractors.”

Already there have been several failures at Mt Eden Prison which is run by Serco, the same company which will run the Wiri Prison. Those failures have been around prisoner management plans and the escape or wrongful release of prisoners.

Richard Wagstaff says “we have a restructured and robust public prison system which has spare capacity. The government needs to have confidence in that rather than trying to flog off prison management to profit making private companies.”

ENDS

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