Halving prison construction costs

January 31st, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports that Minister is hoping to be able to construct new prisons at $300,000 per cell compared to $660,000 it was costing under Labour:

Corrections Minister Judith Collins has slammed the “extravagance” of the previous Government’s prison building programme and is looking at using pre-fabricated modular units to slash construction costs by more than half.

She said new jails – which will be required to accommodate the boost in inmate numbers flowing from National’s tougher stance on sentencing and parole – would be “functional, humane and safe” but not “luxurious”.

As an example of Labour’s extravagant spending, she cited the $380 million Spring Hill Corrections Facility in the Waikato which worked out at around $660,000 per cell to build once all costs were taken into account.

“You can buy two houses for that. You’ve got to do better than that.

“There has been a lack of accountability because there has been too much money. We don’t have the luxury of taxes rolling in.”

Ms Collins said she had asked her officials to present her with ideas on prison construction which had been rejected by the previous Government. They had presented her with a modular design used in Australia which, including infrastructure and other construction costs, worked out at around $300,000 a cell.

If they are good enough for Australia, they should be good enough for us!

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27 Responses to “Halving prison construction costs”

  1. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    How about Judith buys Waiheke, converts it to an unguarded penal colony, and then we just shoot any prisoner found on the mainland?

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  2. Monty (899 comments) says:

    and as predictable as day follows night Labour are coming out against this. Having been directly involved in the Spring Hill Prison I think a 50% reduction in the cost of building prisons is entirely possible. For starters do not pay $1.5m to “consult” with iwi – especially the likes of Tom Moana – convicted fraud and crook.

    I say get someone to study Sheriff Joe to se how real cost savings can be acheived.

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  3. side show bob (3,410 comments) says:

    How about Judith growing some balls and use bloody prisoners to build their own prison. Would sure save a shit load of money. What about a bit of slave labour, fuck the human rights bill, they don’t work they don’t eat. Get the bastards out of the cells away from their colour tellies. Prison guards with shotguns and not afraid to use them. Just employ those with the skills who know how to build a prison but let the prisoners do all the hard graft, they might even learn something.

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  4. peterwn (3,340 comments) says:

    Redbaiter – the big problem with running a prison is to protect the prisoners from each other. With an ungarded penal colony, the top thugs will effectively run the show, and the judiciary will just not allow prisoners to be sent there. OK the sentencing judge has no say as to the destination prison, but an injunction would soon be obtained from another judge and would be supported on appeal IMO.

    If Judith is considering modular buldings, as far as I can see, they would have to be of steel construction. Timber framing is no use for all sorts of reasons. For example prisons need to be as fire resistant as possible.

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  5. Buggerlugs (1,241 comments) says:

    peterwn, and the problem with your first two sentences is what exactly?

    I had to laugh at goff going on about shoddy buildings for prisons when the new Labour prison in Northland is already falling apart!

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  6. Frank (320 comments) says:

    In this world of technology, it is hard to see how a prison cell could cost so much. Even an extravagent hotel would be less per room.

    I have seen a builder’s quote that was reduced to 1/4 with the person concerned acting as Clerk of Works, obtaining quotes from contractors and then employ a builder to provide materials and labour when required. A superior job emerged that was a joy to behold as was the total cost!

    So is a Government tender egarded as a milk cow?

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  7. Seamonkey Madness (168 comments) says:

    Frank, surely that is a rhetoric question? (as is mine.)

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  8. Camryn (481 comments) says:

    Redbaiter and Buggerlugs – Saw an interesting documentary on Discovery about a Peruvian prison. It was totally unmonitored on the inside, and soon achieved a fairly stable dynamic. The prisoners soon realize that an unsafe society isn’t fun to live in, despite failing to cotton on when they were the creators of the violence towards innocents on the outside. So, each cell block soon developed a leadership that kept their people in line and mediated any disputes at a high-level council. Only occasionally did any dispute lead to violence between cell blocks. Most blocks forbade their members to commit unsanctioned offenses (against their own people or other cell blocks) on pain of expulsion. Those expelled from their block essentially became prison homeless with no defenders and no reliable access to food/water (which was provided through the gate at certain times for certain blocks, requiring the full strength of that block to protect the supplies from gate to safety). The food/water were limited so that the blocks main concerns were protecting their supplies from the homeless and opportunistic raids by other blocks… rather than more dangerous mischief.

    In short – Guard-less jails can work fine since (1) humans tend to be willing to forgo violence in order to be safe from violence as long as the trade-off is immediately apparent to even the dimmest, (2) authorities on the outside can have large effects on the nature of the inside society by controlling parameters such as food/water.

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  9. Danyl Mclauchlan (941 comments) says:

    I say get someone to study Sheriff Joe to se how real cost savings can be acheived.

    ‘Sheriff Joe’ does save his state money on the cost of prisons, but he loses a great deal more on all on the law suits bought against him by the many families of people who are raped, tortured and/or murdered while incarcerated in his facilities.

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  10. greenfly (1,059 comments) says:

    Minister Collins is to build more prisons – Hooray!
    There’ll be more prisoners! – hooray!
    The new prisons won’t be ‘luxurious’ – hooray!
    We will have a safer society, quite soon (exciting!)

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  11. Chuck Bird (4,915 comments) says:

    Minister Collins is to build more prisons – Hooray!
    There’ll be more prisoners! – hooray!
    The new prisons won’t be ‘luxurious’ – hooray!
    We will have a safer society, quite soon (exciting!)

    Excellent post greenfly. It certainly sounds like Judith is doing a good job. I and so glad you agree.

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  12. davidp (3,585 comments) says:

    Guantanamo Bay will be sitting around empty in a year of so. Well, errr, maybe. Once the study is completed. It is a very complicated issue you know. Etc etc Obama-burble etc.

    Maybe the American’s would sell it to us?

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  13. Chuck Bird (4,915 comments) says:

    If the majority of premeditated killers and certain opportunistic killers like child murders were sentenced to natural life we could save a lot by paying Tonga or Samoa to confine them. Rehabilitation would not be an issue. Unlike with capital punishment if new evidence found some not guilty they could be freed. This would be a good source of income for these island nations.

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  14. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    “$660,000 per cell to build”

    Typical Labour – extravagance wherever their voting base was concerned.
    Did that cost include eco bulbs, low pressure showers and vegetarian kitchens – or was that just to be forced on the law abiding taxpayers?

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  15. Ross Miller (1,618 comments) says:

    Memo to Judith C … Go with your instincts. Switch off on the naysayers. They’ve had their place in the sun and blew it big time. In fact disregard any and all advice from the ‘left’. Most of them are dead scared that when they are found out and become guests of government the luxurious single bed en-suite establishments pioneered by their lot will be no more.
    Sad.

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  16. Chuck Bird (4,915 comments) says:

    How much does a bucket cost compared to a flush toilet? In military prison the buckets had to be shined for daily inspection.

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  17. Hagues (703 comments) says:

    How much would it cost to take out all the single beds and replace with bunk beds?

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  18. dad4justice (6,595 comments) says:

    Just come from Paparoa Prison and the screws tell me that the entire prison population has put in for a transfer to the five star Milton Hilton. Thanks Labour for encouraging criminality. You scoundrels!!!!

    Will we EVER be able to fix the damage caused by the shameful Miss Klark Absolute Power Regime?

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  19. Chuck Bird (4,915 comments) says:

    I think I should suggest to Judith that Corrections make a contribution to Kiwiblog for all the money saving ideas they are giving for free. I bet bet Labour paid some consultant mates.

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  20. Ross Nixon (517 comments) says:

    Reinforced concrete – no other materials needed. Would save us $millions!

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  21. mara (770 comments) says:

    Currently in Mt Eden jail…..Skinny little white guy goes into the prison yard, looks up and sees this HUGE brown guy standing next to him. The big guy sees the little guy staring up at him, looks down and says: ” 7 feet tall, 350 pounds, 20 inch private, 3 pound testicles. Turner Brown”.

    The white man faints and falls to the floor. The big guy kneels down and brings him to, shaking him. The big guy says, “What’s wrong with you?” In a weak voice the little guy says, “What EXACTLY did you say to me?” The big dude says, “I saw your curious look and figured I’d just give you the answers to the questions everyone always asks me.
    I’m 7 feet tall, I weigh 350 pounds, I have a 20 inch private, my testicles weigh 3 pounds each, and my name is Turner Brown”.

    The small guy says: “Turner Brown?! …. Sweet Jesus, I thought you said, “Turn around.”

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  22. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    Of course things like rape, torture and murder never happen in NZ’s wonderful PC prisons do they Danyl. If NZ had Arizona’s tort laws, there’d be just as many lawsuits as the number Sheriff Joe faces. You failed to note that, like many law suits in the US, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Dept gets its fair share of frivolous suits as well.

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  23. getstaffed (8,040 comments) says:

    I don’t buy the idea of a fixed price per cell to build. All constructions have economies of scale, and land varies in price considerably by location. In other words the cost per cell of a 100 cell prison in Remuera would be considerably higher than a 2000 cell prison outside Waiuru (central north island).

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  24. Christopher (425 comments) says:

    Just come from Paparoa Prison and the screws tell me that the entire prison population has put in for a transfer to the five star Milton Hilton. Thanks Labour for encouraging criminality. You scoundrels!!!!

    Interesting you should mention the Milton Hilton.

    Just to throw some personal experience in here, I was on the very first tour of the prison once it was completed but before it was opened as part of my criminal justice class.

    I can say a few things about it with absolute certainty (from personal experience):

    1) That place is luxurious. I mean really luxurious.
    2) The “flats” used to “re-introduce” prisoners to society (etc) are amazing. They’re better than any student flat I’ve seen in Dunedin, even the newest ones. brand new fridges and washing machines, well-made kitchens, cozy bedrooms, central heating… I shit you not. Seriously, I’m not joking. Those flats are nicer than most houses.
    3) The way prisoners will be treated in there is an affront to the very concept of criminal justice.

    Just a reminder, this is after having seen the place, virtually top to bottom, with my own eyes.

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  25. jackp (668 comments) says:

    Christopher, why such extravagance? They must have explained it to you. Why is it Labour punishes the people who work hard and gives billions away to people who don’t wish to contribute anything to New Zealand. What is it with Cullen and Clark???? . What Christopher said makes me sick. While good honest families are cutting back and trying to live honestly, their tax money were just being thrown away ugly politicians like Cullen and Clark. Thank God they are out!!!!! I don’t think there are words that can express my anger with Labour now.

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  26. LUCY (359 comments) says:

    The flats at Hawkes Bay prison are just as luxurious. Wide screen TV Stero’s georgeous furniture and while I was touring they where installing a top of the line pool table in a rumpus room.

    The person who project managed the building of the new prisons had been moved into the position after stuffing up her own perm. senior role. So we are suprised that the project was not on time and way over budget because???????????

    Oh and they found a huge crack in one of the walls at the Springhill prison before it opened as it had been buit on unstable ground Im not sure what happened about that but I know it was a major issue at the time.

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