Lots of privately run prisons

March 9th, 2009 at 6:14 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports that we may see existing prisons, not just new prisons, have their management taken over by the private sector.

If private management can do the job better than the Department of , I’m all for it. And by better I mean costing less, fewer escapes, less positive drug tests on prisoners, less smuggled contraband, lower reoffending rates and less corruption.

There is an insidious culture of toleration of corruption in many state prisons. I’m not sure even a new CEO, can change it – it has been ingrained for decades. So pervasive is it, that new staff have to turn a blind eye to it, to survive.

Allowing prisons to go with private management, may be the best thing that can happen for reducing corrupt behaviour in prison.

The state, as is appropriate, will still own the prisons, and set the minimum standards that must be adhered to. So this is privately managed prisons, not privately owned prisons.

Anyway you know the best thing abour having a prison under private management? You can sack them for incompetence! Yes if a private manager does not perform they can lose the contract and face penalties. However in Corrections we have decades of non performance, with little consequences.

Tags: ,

25 Responses to “Lots of privately run prisons”

  1. reid (16,106 comments) says:

    I understand Auckland iwi were pretty keen on retaining Auckland Remand in private management before Labour cancelled.

    One issue is, you can’t have it going from public to private to public everytime there’s a change of govt.

    Therefore the MP, as the most likely kingmaker successor to NZF, would ideally develop a pretty clear policy on this and ideally it would be a bottom-line issue for them in post-election negotiations. Chances of that happening I would guess aren’t that high. It’s not a headline issue for the electorate during the election cycle.

    Another thing, lets hope the govt is going to include a clause on significant bonuses and penalties arising from defined improvements or drops in recidivism. That’s a difficult thing to achieve but it’s a much bigger benefit to we taxpayers than any cost reductions that arise from administering the bloody things.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. BlairM (2,305 comments) says:

    Excellent! Can we also have… a privately run TVNZ? How about a privately run postal service? Privately owned state houses? Surely what works so well for prisons (prisons of all things) will work for everything else? No?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. peterwn (3,211 comments) says:

    See:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article5864483.ece

    “Judges took bribes to jail teenagers” (it is re-printed in today’s Dom-Post but can’t find it on Stuff)

    Not a good look for private prisons. A couple of USA judges were taking bribes from juvenile prison operators to send them plenty of prisoners – the state paid the operators according to the number of prisoners held. I think that the whole concept of elected judges is shonky.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. petal (705 comments) says:

    Ah, the “law” of unintended consquences.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. dad4justice (7,967 comments) says:

    Great stuff National as everybody knows corrections is a dysfunctional mess and we have the second highest incarceration rate in the world. My only worry with the law being an ass that judges and a bent police prosecution team will combine to jail those at the highest bidder in what is a very lucrative growth industry.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. dad4justice (7,967 comments) says:

    peterwn ;25% of all the people in the entire world behind bars are in US jails.Why?
    There’s a lot of money to be made putting people in jail.

    Here’s the story of two Pennsylvania judges who took over $2.6 million in bribes to put THOUSANDS of kids in a private jail system.

    http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/578.html

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. Ross Miller (1,681 comments) says:

    Some might recall I foreshadowed this in an earlier post. So even if the SSC manage to whitewash Mathews change will happen … and about time too. The Public Sector model is an abismal failure. It had its chance and blew it big time over and over and over again.

    And ‘Crusher’ will make it happen and all the caterwauling from our resident PC Leftie Brigade will resonate not a jot with her.

    Some lady our Judith and living proof of the old adage that ‘if you aren’t a socialist by age 20 you haven’t a heart and if you aren’t a conservative by age 30 you haven’t a brain’. And that, I suspect, is what REALLY gets up the noses of Billy and Sonic et al. Crusher had the wit and intelligence to come in from the dark side and we are all the better for that.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. cha (3,853 comments) says:

    Two Pennsylvania judges were charged with taking $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care.

    Oh, and the owner of the detention centers is claiming he was the victim of an extortion scheme perpetrated by the judges

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. big bruv (13,552 comments) says:

    “Judges took bribes to jail teenagers” (it is re-printed in today’s Dom-Post but can’t find it on Stuff)

    Not a good look for private prisons. A couple of USA judges were taking bribes from juvenile prison operators to send them plenty of prisoners”

    More selective morality!

    I agree that is not a good look but where was the outcry from the left when a corrupt money lender managed to win the recent US Presidential election?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. big bruv (13,552 comments) says:

    We need privately run prisons, we need LOTS of them.

    I don’t care if they are safer, I don’t care if they are more humane, I don’t care if they are better run, I don’t care if they have fewer escapes, I don’t care if they have less contraband and less drugs.

    What I DO care about is that they are much, much cheaper to run.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. peterwn (3,211 comments) says:

    Looks like this Pennsylvania thing has come at a bad time for Judith Collins.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. cha (3,853 comments) says:

    Also The Prison-Industrial Complex

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. ben (2,414 comments) says:

    The state, as is appropriate, will still own the prisons

    Why is that appropriate?

    If you’re interested in running with whatever model works best, which I think you are, and an argument and evidence can be compiled showing that on average private ownership produces better performance at lesss cost, then what’s appropriate about staying public? Staying with public ownership in that case simply makes the nation less safe and poorer.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Tim Ellis (253 comments) says:

    This is a sensible and bold move. It seems there will be a bit of a chicken-little reaction from the Labour Party, but if Corrections really does need a serious shake-up, then I can’t see that happening without either a complete destruction of the department and starting again, or a move to put individual prison management out to tender.

    Of course there are abuses in private prisons internationally. There have also been abuses in public prisons internationally, and in New Zealand. The difference is that it’s much harder to hold public prison management to account for abuses.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. dime (9,662 comments) says:

    “Looks like this Pennsylvania thing has come at a bad time for Judith Collins.”

    hahahahaha hourly posts trying to drum up a scandal? good luck!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Scott (1,736 comments) says:

    Totally agree with you DPF and also Tim Ellis. We ran some church services at Auckland remand prison when it was still private. I was struck by the professionalism of the staff and the clean and modern surroundings. Right next door was Mount Eden prison — you couldn’t get a bigger contrast.

    I think if private enterprise can do a good job of running prisons, then all power to them. Another excellent move by this government in my opinion.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,820 comments) says:

    Labour can’t win for losing. :lol:

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. He-Man (270 comments) says:

    I mean costing less, fewer escapes, less positive drug tests on prisoners, less smuggled contraband, lower reoffending rates and less corruption

    This dosen’t happen in the US private prisons, and neither will it hapen here.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Tim Ellis (253 comments) says:

    This dosen’t happen in the US private prisons, and neither will it hapen here.

    Well, it did happen here when the Auckland Remand prison was managed by a private company.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. itiswhatitis (58 comments) says:

    Prisons to be run by GEO Group, a run down,
    Heres their rap sheet, oooppps not very good http://www.privateci.org/rap_geo.html

    or The GEO Group is an international corporation that operates prisons around the country and is frequently in the news for its abuse of prisoners in its care resulting in many preventable deaths. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEO_Group

    GEO Group has had a merger with G4S the worlds largest security servicer.
    Several of his senior executives were former CIA operatives, and his company’s board of directors included former FBI director Clarence M. Kelley, former National Security Agency director Bobby Ray Inman, and former Defense secretary and deputy CIA director Frank Carlucci. and other related gore http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wackenhut

    G4S was the subject of a global campaign by union workers alleging that subsidiaries undermine labour and human rights standards.
    It also brought ArmorGroup provides protective security services, risk management consultancy, security training and mine action services. It has 38 offices in 27 countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria and Sudan.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. He-Man (270 comments) says:

    In 1998 the US had a prison population of 445 per 100,000 of population. Today that number stands at 701 per 100,000. The aim of private prisons is to jail more people, and to keep them in longer, because there are more profits to be made that way.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. Harpoon (77 comments) says:

    DPF:

    “There is an insidious culture of toleration of corruption in many state prisons.”

    oh. Right then. With a private prison system we can wave bye byes to corruption?

    Bollox.

    Yesterdays Sunday times (carried in today’s DomPost) reports proof of:
    * the drive by a private prison operator (in the US) for sentencing decisions that incarcerate people and increase the length of an inmate’s stay.
    * the truth of the fear that private corporations are a powerful lobby for high-imprisonment policies.

    I wonder what guarantees the NZ government can provide that this sort of thing will not be possible in NZ? Not many.

    ============================================
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article5864483.ece

    Judges took bribes to jail teenagers
    The US has been stunned by the case of two judges who took bungs from private prisons
    Tony Allen-Mills in New York

    LIKE many other 15-year-old schoolgirls, Hillary Transue was not quite as respectful as she might have been towards the teachers at her Pennsylvania school. Yet she was a clever, computer-savvy pupil who had good grades and had never been in serious trouble.

    One day, for a joke, she published a spoof article on the MySpace social networking website, mocking the assistant principal at her high school in Wilkes-Barre. The teacher complained and, to the astonishment of her family, Transue was charged with harassment and hauled into juvenile court.

    That was where the family’s surprise turned to horror. After studying the case for two minutes, Judge Mark Ciavarella sentenced Transue to three months in juvenile detention. She was led out of the court in handcuffs.

    / more is at the online story in the link above
    =============

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. getstaffed (9,189 comments) says:

    harpoon, Horrific indeed.

    So those judges belong in jail, and the company operating the juvenile detention centre should be fined mega-bucks and have their contract suspended.

    However trying to make a case that private management leads to a generally corrupt judiciary is just nuts.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Harpoon (77 comments) says:

    Getstaffed, how many instances would you need to see, in order to change your mind about private prisons, of corruption, wrongful incarceration, prison companies working to encourage misbehaviour (Result — quelle suprise!: longer stays), etc etc …?

    Private prisons are morally reprehensible, unjust, bad for society, and silly policy.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. getstaffed (9,189 comments) says:

    The problems you list are mostly represented in prisons today.

    I don’t buy the idea that because something is privately run that it’s inherently better or worse that state run. It comes down to implementation, governance structure and audit/control processes.

    And anyway, where do you draw the line? State run prisons use contract staff, independent transport services, private caterers &maintenance staff. Has been this way for years. Should the state prime all these services to mitigate the risk you see of corruption and/or undue influence? Are state-paid workers less susceptible to reprehensible wrongs than are their privately-paid counterparts?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.