Solomon on Private Prisons

Ngai Tahu Chairman was interviewed today on Q+A. The part I want to emphasise is this:

MARK I like the concept, I like the concept of the way that they deal with the cultural aspects within a prison system. For example one of the maximum security prisons we visited in Australia had a rather large Aboriginal population. The reality the management were Scots, and Australians and English people, and I simply asked them well how do you deal with the cultural needs of the people that you’re not connected to, and their answer was quite excellent from my point of view – we don’t, we have gone into a relationship with the Aboriginal tribes in the region and they work with us to set the cultural aspects within the prisons system. But what we found when we went through the prison was – I mean I’ve been to Paremoremo, I’ve been to Paparoa, I’ve had a look through the New Zealand prisons. The atmosphere between the two prisons was absolutely outstanding, the difference between the Australian model under the , to what we have here. For example, every prisoner in the Port Prince prison has three opportunities every day, they’re either in a hospital bed, they’re at a work station, or they’re in education. That’s their choices. We went into what’s known as the youth wing, 18 to 29 year olds, they run companies within the prison.

GUYON So it’s a lot more innovative than in the New Zealand system?

MARK Lot more innovative, they’re educated in drive, they’re upskilling, and the latest thing I heard from GE4S that they were petitioning the Australian government to introduce trade training, and their view is what is the point of having a prisoner behind bars five to 15 years, and at the end of it you chuck him back out on the street with no qualifications, no skills, within a month he’s back in prison. You’ve got to look at how do you address the recidivism.

Just remember, this is what Labour and the Greens have fought tooth and nail against.

And Solomon say the praise isn’t commercially motivated:

MARK Myself and three other Iwi leaders were invited by TPK to meet with some of the companies that are coming into the company to potentially bid for private prisons. I will be up front, my interest wasn’t so much in having an equity share in the prison. I wanted to know how these companies that are offshore companies would deal with the cultural aspects when they came into New Zealand. So we met with GE4S.

GUYON A Melbourne based company.

MARK And Serco, yes the other Australian based company. We were blown away in the way that they deal with their prisoners.

GUYON You were impressed?

MARK We’re completely impressed.

For all their talk about the need for better rehabilitation in prisons, Labour and the Greens put narrow ideology ahead of something that could make a real difference.

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