Yay another private prison

May 11th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Auckland jail is to be handed over to private management under legislation passed last year.

The tender process for the handover of the joint Mt Eden-Auckland Central Remand Prison will begin within a month, with a decision early next year. A formal handover is pencilled in for August 2011.

Great.

Labour’s corrections spokesman, Clayton Cosgrove, said the party would reverse privatisation of any prisons.

“If Labour were elected government, it would be our intention to revert back to Crown management of prisons.

There is no way there is the same level of accountability or parliamentary inquiry, as they have now with a government agency.

“Corrections is the core responsibility of the state.”

This is ideological nonsense.

What Collins is doing in Corrections is almost identical to what we already have for prosecutions. Almost all prosecutions are managed by private law firms, with Crown Law setting overall policy and standards.

Is Labour proposing to nationalise prosecutions and remove crown prosecution warrants from the dozen or so law firms that have them?

Prosecutions can be deemed just as much a core responsibility as corrections. But what counts is that the Crown sets policy and standards in the area – they do not need to provide the service.

Auckland Central Remand Prison was privately run by the Australian GEO Group from 1999 to 2005, when the Labour Government refused to renew the contract.

Ms Collins has praised GEO for introducing new rehabilitation services and having fewer positive drug tests and an excellent safety record – only one suicide and three serious assaults in 2004 – but the Corrections Association has challenged this.

This is the key. You provide financial incentives for not allowing drug use by prisoners, having improved safety and most of all for fewer escapes. Incentives matter, and they work.

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27 Responses to “Yay another private prison”

  1. Paulus (2,603 comments) says:

    Typical Labour lite policy. No wonder they got crushed at the last election.

    Still living in the 19th century – jerks

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  2. GPT1 (2,116 comments) says:

    If anything prosecutions (certainly the decision on whether or not to prosecute) is more of a core responsibility than imprisoning. It is at that point the state decides whether it has cause to infringe the rights of citizens – by the time of imprisonment that decision has been made.

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  3. Chad C Mulligan (8 comments) says:

    Mister Farrar, You never heard of ‘loss leader’?

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  4. Mr Nobody NZ (389 comments) says:

    I hope National put nice long Contract terms on this like 20+ years.

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  5. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    Do you undertstand what a remand Prison is? Collins doesn’t, as she claims privatisation will provoide better rehabilitation. But then, ministers not understanding their portfolios is what this government is all about.

    What rehabilitation do the innocent need?

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  6. Repton (769 comments) says:

    It’s ideological nonsense to oppose private prisons, but yet you support this deal without knowing anything about it?

    Seems like there’s plenty of ideology on both sides..

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  7. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    David- you should not be celebrating until you see the terms of the contract. It is only worth doing if you can get decent operators and the public does not get slugged with all the risk.

    I remember when the Victorian Government built Port Phillip Prison and signed up those idiots Wackenhuit- boy did they regret using them.

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  8. Scott (1,765 comments) says:

    Totally agree with you DPF. I was involved once with running a chapel service at Auckland central remand prison. It was a well-run facility, clean and modern. The procedures for admitting visitors seem to be good. The impression I received was a well-run prison.

    On the other hand Mt Eden prison, right next door, stood as a monument to 19th century prison practices. The two prisons could not be compared. One clean and modern, the other dark and dingy.

    I suspect that the private sector, given appropriate oversight, could do an excellent job of running prisons, and also building new prisons.

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  9. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    “Corrections is the core responsibility of the state.”,

    Just like Health, Education, Superannuation, ACC, Welfare, Airlines, Trains, Electricity Generation……

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  10. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    the other dark and dingy.

    It was built in 1872.

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  11. lyndon (325 comments) says:

    Yeah, the ACRP was better than Mt Eden because it was a) new (and that includes the best-practise issues – compare with other new prisons) and b) a remand facility.

    Why it was more expensive I won’t speculate, but it does point to a failure in the tendering process that I doubt has been fixed.

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  12. lyndon (325 comments) says:

    [I (probably) don't mean more expensive than Mt Eden, but certainly comparable public prisons]

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  13. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Handover only Mt Eden to private management.. Hand over the lot to private management.. and fast.
    I have always been in favor of contracting out the prisioners full stop.
    The private managers should have set goals and outcomes.. Like DPF say’s provide financial incentives for not allowing drug use by prisoners, having improved safety and most of all for fewer escapes… and less re-fending stats. Instead of been paid based on prisoner numbers.

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  14. big bruv (13,689 comments) says:

    Does anybody really care (apart from Rex) about prisoners safety?

    Make it safe for the screws, make it safe for the other prison staff but I could not give a toss about the welfare of the scum.

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  15. kowtow (8,211 comments) says:

    Rehabilitation? ………pish on that…..bring back honesty in language and call it what it is ….punishment and isolation from society. That’s what most of the bastards deserve.

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  16. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    bb,
    You may be disappointed to learn that private prisons tend to be softer on prisoners. Cheaper to bribe them into compliance than try and punish them. Then you can get bonuses for well behaved prisoners.

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  17. MikeE (555 comments) says:

    “Make it safe for the screws, make it safe for the other prison staff but I could not give a toss about the welfare of the scum.”

    Not everyone in prison is scum, regardless of what you’d like to believe.

    Have a friend who was lucky to get home detention for a MoDA offense, but could have ended up with a year or two in prison.

    Very lucky, as he’s turned his life around now – I think prison would have destroyed him and turned him into a real criminal, rather than just someone silly enough to get caught with a bag of pills.

    People like that – do deserve a safe environment. They are NOT the same as the thug who rapes/murders/steals etc.

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  18. big bruv (13,689 comments) says:

    bchapman

    Yep, that is disappointing indeed, however, I think I will get over it, if it costs me less or it means we can lock up more scum for the same amount of tax payer dollars then I am all for it.

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  19. lyndon (325 comments) says:

    if it costs me less

    Experience does not suggest that will be the case.

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  20. vibenna (305 comments) says:

    I’m sorry David, but your comparison with holding the government warrant for prosecutions is unmitigated nonsense.

    The crown prosecutors only put arguments. They cannot administratively move somebody to solitary confinement, conduct an invasive body search, handcuff the accused or beat them, as corrections officers can. A better comparison would be with private police, or a private army, which we do not have for good reasons. It is dangerous to privatize the coercive power of the state.

    Having said that I do support the move. While there are dangers, I think they are outweighed by the failure of corrections to run decent prisons, the very good chance of better rehabilitation under private managers. However, it would be a good idea to have an independent observer in each prison – selected by the government in consultation with the Howard League – to provide a check on private use of coercive power. This would be not unlike the fisheries officers who observe on foreign trawlers to make sure they don’t exceed the law.

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  21. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Cheaper to bribe them into compliance than try and punish them.

    If bribing is to say “if you then we can sort you out with ” then that’s all a-ok as far as i’m concerned. If the fellons learn about +ve feedbacks first hand (or simply miss out by not lifting their game) then they’ll be better prepared for the outside world.

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  22. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    ug, mangled. will try again …

    Cheaper to bribe them into compliance than try and punish them

    If we can tell them: “Look, if you insert-good-behaviour then we can sort you out with insert-something-valuable” then I’m all for it.

    Life kinda works like that, and most of these prisoners will be out participating in life again sometime.

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  23. Jeremy Harris (319 comments) says:

    When both the Greens and the Libertarians think something is a bad idea, it has to be pretty stupid…

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  24. kiki (425 comments) says:

    prison have no real bearing on the safety of the public or crime.

    moral wars, poverty, education a culture of responsibility and the ability to see a future are greater influences.

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  25. kiki (425 comments) says:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/02/23/pennsylvania.corrupt.judges/

    yes performance bonuses

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