Yay another private prison

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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