Nandor on private prisons

March 26th, 2009 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Nandor Tanczos blogs:

I think the best run prison the country has seen was the Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP) when it was run by Australasian Correctional Management (now Geotech) – a private prison operator. OK, it was a brand new (Government built) facility. It didn’t take sentenced prisoners, so the dynamics were quite different, and its contractual obligations were different from those of public prisons.

What impressed me, though, was the needs assessments on new inmates, at a time when the infamous Integrated Offender Management System was barely functioning in the public system. What also impressed was the leadership of its outstanding General Manager Dom Karauria.

As an aside it is interesting that a number of experienced Maori managers have done well with Australian private prison operators. They don’t seem to face the same institutional barriers, or maybe Australian prison companies just value a Maori perspective.

And Labour legislated to make this illegal and remove such good management.

Nandor goes on to put forward his preferred option:

It recommended small scale habilitation centres, with intensive, often confrontational, therapy to address the causes of offending. Sentenced prisoners would be assessed for suitability and people not suitable, or trying to play the system, would stay in a general prison.

The Public Prison Service is not well suited to running these kinds of operations. Neither is the multinational prison industry. They are both better at running sausage factories. Habilitation centres are suited to relatively small commercial and community operations, and they offer enormous scope for effective and innovative programs. They allow Tangata Whenua, Pasific Island or other groups to address particular cultural or religious needs. The tragedy of the public vs private prison debate is that this kind of solution gets lost in the fray.

I don’t see what Nandor urges as incompatible with what National is doing. It is all about choice, and choosing the best operator for each sort of prison. Sometimes that may be Dept of Corrections. Sometimes it may be an international player with experience in the area, and sometimes it might be a small local provider.

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17 Responses to “Nandor on private prisons”

  1. MarkF (102 comments) says:

    Is Nachos off the weed? First bit of sense I’ve heard from the man.

    Did I just say that?

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  2. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    I acted for a fellow who was employed at the remand prison while it was privately run.

    We had a long discussion about the pro’s and cons of private management and he having worked under both regimes was in favour of the privatised model.

    He indicated that there were massive efficiiencies to be obtained under the privatised model and yet despite this the prisoners received education counselling and support they would otherwise have not received under the state managed model.

    I suppose it helped that the facility was new as opposed to the shit heap that the old Mt Eden prison is.

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  3. Bryan Spondre (225 comments) says:

    “They allow Tangata Whenua, Pasific Island or other groups to address particular cultural or religious needs. ” – it’s prison not a hippy commune, they can follow their flaky beliefs when they get out.

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  4. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    It’s not the first bit of sense I’ve heard from him. In the past whenever I’ve heard something by the Green Party that sounded sensible, it’s generally been said by Nandor. Of course I often disagree with him too!

    With him gone, the Greens are free to go down whatever nonsensical route they like, but hopefully Nandor will find something sensible to do.

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  5. big bruv (13,885 comments) says:

    Fucking typical, lets spend millions of hard earned tax payer dollars rehabilitating criminals, lets spend millions making sure that the low lifes can have another chance, nowhere does Nandor mention those terrible words “personal responsibility”

    Meanwhile the victims of crime have to go as far as the supreme court (Susan Couch) to get any decent compensation.

    Call in Sheriff Joe.

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  6. Steve (4,560 comments) says:

    Nandor did find something sensible to do.
    Fouls Kitchen on ‘What Now”
    Unfortunately he had to leave along with The Mad Butcher.
    Who is left? Watch TV2 Sunday morning 8am.
    (What Now is an adult’s program that children are allowed to watch)

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  7. jacob van hartog (300 comments) says:

    Big bruv Susan Couch , has recieved compensation. Who do you think has paid her medical bills, her lost wages and any future payments?
    She doesn’t get a windfall thats all ( most of which would go in lawyers bills anyway)

    No surprise its the lawyers who would be the main beneficiaries if her test case would succeed, shes just a poster child for lawyers to rip off the ACC system

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  8. georgebolwing (845 comments) says:

    If the objective is less crime, the surely, we have to pay attention to the causes of crime as well as the consequences?

    Ranting that “low life scum don’t take personal responsibility, lock ‘em till they rot, bring back the lash, hanging is to good for them” will not stop any murders, rapes or muggings.

    Asking why people don’t take personal responsibility and then trying to make sure they do BEFORE they become criminals might be a good idea. Just putting it out there.

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  9. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    “it’s prison not a hippy commune, they can follow their flaky beliefs when they get out.”

    Well Nandor was referring to a habilitation centre, not a supermax prison.

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  10. big bruv (13,885 comments) says:

    jacob

    Do you really want to talk about people ripping off the ACC system?, that is one conversation I would love to have with you as the vast majority of people ripping off the bankrupt ACC system are low life left wing voters.

    Nothing is sacred to you is it?, even the devastated life of Susan Couch is fair game for your bitter and twisted little mind, have you seen this poor woman on the TV Jacob?, she can hardly walk yet you think she has received compensation????

    I despise you people, you claim to be the party for the poor and the vulberable yet the reality is that you could not give a toss about them, the whole thing is about power and being able to reward “loyal” party workers.

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  11. big bruv (13,885 comments) says:

    George Bowling

    “Ranting that “low life scum don’t take personal responsibility, lock ‘em till they rot, bring back the lash, hanging is to good for them” will not stop any murders, rapes or muggings”

    Classic liberal bullshit!, leaving them to “rot” would mean that Susan Couch would not be facing life as a near invalid, Graham Burton would not have killed Karl Kuchenbecker, the list goes on and on.

    We as a nation have a system that cares for the criminal far more than the victim, we have a system that offers every chance for the criminals to have a better life once they serve their pathetically short sentence while at the same time that system says to victims “you are on your own”.

    Call it a rant, call it what you bloody well like but I fail to see why we as tax payers should have provide more than the bare necessities of life to criminals, I also fail to see why the likes of Burton, Bell and Bain should ever be free to wander our streets again or why they should be a drain on tax payers, all of these men murdered in the most horrible way, they have no right to continue being a burden to the tax payer.

    A bullet in the back of the head is a simple and cost effective way of dealing with them

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  12. James (1,338 comments) says:

    What Bruv said….except maybe the bullet bit. I imagine you meant “Classic” liberal bullshit….not “Classical Liberal” bullshit….theres a difference. ;-)

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  13. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Nandor needs to do a little more research. Is this the sort of wide-eyed “gee whizz” approach he took to the questions on which he was asked to cast a vote as an MP? I sincerely hope not.

    Because while private prisons can indeed be very good, private prisons run by Wackenhut / Geotech / ACM are not. Aside from their record in Australia running Woomera detention centre their performance in other places has been appalling:

    – Texas terminated their contract to run a prison pending the expected criminal indictment of several staff for sexually abusing inmates.
    – The company’s contract to operate a prison in their home state of Florida was cancelled.
    – There were mass escapes in June, July and August 1999 in Australia.
    – In New Mexico, Wackenhut’s two prisons in a single year experienced riots, 9 stabbings and 5 murders, including the killing of a guard.
    – It’s guards, supposedly protecting a sensitive nuclear installation, were filmed asleep.
    – The state of Louisiana was forced to take over the Wackenhut-operated Jena Juvenile Justice facility when inspectors found that guards routinely beat and abused the youthful inmates.
    – In Alaska the company was investigated in 2007 by the GAO for “inadequate training and incomplete background checks that led to employment of officers with criminal records”, “poor” record-keeping that included falsified training records, and a near-total lack of any kind of monitoring or oversight on the program.
    – In Britain, Wackenhut’s parent company, Group 4, was the subject of an undercover BBC investigation into its handling of a contract to monitor sex offenders “revealing rapists, killers, and pedophiles left unmonitored as a result of faulty equipment and poor work practices.”
    – …and so on. There’s a litany of such failures across the globe in Wackenhut-run facilities.

    And as if that’s not reason enough to be wary, they’re also in trouble for *cough* “overbilling”…

    In May 2008, an audit from Miami-Dade County found that Wackenhut had overbilled the county for up to $6 million over three years for non-existent security guards at Metrorail stations and along bus routes, and tried to cover this up using inaccurate and falsified records, including payment to officers for “ghost posts”. Officers were paid and asked to sign in so management could bill the county, even though the hours were never worked.

    So no matter which standard you’re concerned with… prisoner welfare, value for money or just doing the job properly and not falling asleep, Geotech are hardly “outstanding”.

    And a remand facility is a far cry – as he points out – from a prison.

    Still, I agree with himon one thing… ACRP probably was the best run correctional facility in NZ. But that’s only because the Corrections Department under Barry Matthews were running the remainder :-/

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  14. georgebolwing (845 comments) says:

    big bruv

    Think back to the day before Graham Burton committed his first ever crime. Why did he do that? Was there something that someone could have done to change his behaviour?

    That is what I am interested in: the causes of crime and what can be done about them. You seem only to be interested in the consequences of crime.

    If crime is caused by something that we can change, but we chose not to and instead just find the criminals after they have wreaked their havoc, then we will still have a lot of crime. Because don’t forget, there are, thankfully, very, very, very few multiple killers out there, but there are far more people who have committed one killing; one serious assault, one rape who don’t go on become mass murderers. I am far more interested in stopping the first instance of crime, not punishing the latest instance.

    George. Classical liberal, and proud of it.

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  15. racer (257 comments) says:

    “big bruv

    Call in Sheriff Joe.

    Yes, lets have a higher crime rate just so that big bruv can have his warm fuzzy feeling of revenge. People like you make me sick, how fucking dare you trade public safety for your own selfish desires.

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  16. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Both courts and corrections should be privatised. The State should regulate, tender and monitor the work but let private enterprise innovate and experiment.

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  17. kiki (425 comments) says:

    Prisons are at the end where we have failed, we should put most of our energy/money into schools and children and once these children have had a proper childhood free from abuse and with a good education then they are free to make their choices. Should after this they choose to take the wrong path then let this path lead through cold concrete and hard labour or even a noose.

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