New prisons for old

March 19th, 2012 at 9:12 am by David Farrar

Danya Levy at Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed old regional prisons are set to close and be replaced with a new privately-built prison at Wiri, in South Auckland.

The Government announced earlier this month that Serco, the private company managing Auckland’s Mt Eden prison, would also run the new 960-bed jail which would be built by Fletcher Construction.

Although the prison muster has been falling, the Government says it needs extra capacity in Auckland.

Serco is expected reduce reoffending by more than 10 per cent and will face financial penalties if it fails to meet the target.

Excellent incentives.

Labour’s justice spokesman Charles Chauvel said Wiri was expected to cost the taxpayer about $1 billion over 25 years but its “indirect” costs were becoming clear and were “disturbing”.

Normally politicians talk about a cost over three or four years to make a small number sound even bigger. Charles has gone even further and is talking about a 25 year figure.

“National seems to have made a decision that, rather than refurbish many regional state-owned institutions, it will simply close them. Prison closures will be a big blow to regional economies. Job losses will be significant.”

Heh, mourning the fact a prison is closing. I suspect the reality is that there are not enough local prisoners in Invercargill and New Plymouth to justify them keeping dedicated prisons. An interesting argument though that one should keep prisons going, even without enough prisoners, to keep jobs. It reminds me of the Yes Minister episode about the best hospital in Britain, which had no patients!

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42 Responses to “New prisons for old”

  1. thor42 (922 comments) says:

    Gawd, Charles Shovel is a sad sack, isn’t he?
    The kind of guy who would moan about the sun coming up in the morning.

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  2. tvb (4,210 comments) says:

    The reaction of the Union was not to welcome the closing of old and inhumane facilities but to try and protect the jobs of officers. It is by no means clear that jobs would be at risk anyway. But the Union does not want to see decrepit facilities closed but to continue them forever.

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  3. dime (9,468 comments) says:

    “Serco is expected reduce reoffending by more than 10 per cent and will face financial penalties if it fails to meet the target.”

    Thats excellent!!

    I hope the penalties are enough to make Serco actually try and arent just factored in as a cost of doing business.

    also – Labour are just a bunch of haters.

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  4. Grizz (500 comments) says:

    Many communities would love to see prisons close. They are great at attracting criminal families to come live in their town.

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  5. nasska (10,689 comments) says:

    What will be getting dear old Charles & his pink knickers in a twist will be the decrease in the membership of prison officers’ unions. Because Serco have moved on from turnkeys & towers they need less staff. Less staff to have their union fees shovelled into Labour Party coffers.

    Oh dear. That’s bad, how sad!

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  6. Ross12 (1,153 comments) says:

    Chauvel should know that Mt Crawford was closed until recently when it was reopened “temporarily” to handle a peak in prisoner numbers. As Grizz says most communities would be pleased to see a prison closed.

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  7. David Garrett (6,461 comments) says:

    And lets not forget that when the three strikes legislation was being passed, Kim Workman, the self described expert on matters penal, confidently predicted that if the law passed prisoner numbers would triple in two years. Here we are almost two years later and not only has his dire prediction not come to pass, but prisoner numbers are FALLING..

    And no, I dont credit 3S alone for that decline…it was part of number of measures passed by the last government which represented a move away from the “all criminals need is love and understanding” philosophy and policies we had hitherto been following with disastrous results for 30 years or so….

    And the tragedy is if we have a Labour led government next time – which seems very likely – they will repeal 3S and other measures, with predictably tragic results…A pox on the bastards…

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  8. adze (1,869 comments) says:

    Except maybe Ohura, I think that prison is about the only employer in that town…

    But yeah you can easily imagine the Opposition’s narrative in response to the counterfactual of additional prisons being built; “National wants to build new prisons? It’s an admission of their failed Justice policies!”

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  9. Paulus (2,503 comments) says:

    Grizz

    Wanganui was a great town until they upgraded the security rating of the prison. Now look at the sad town in relative terms.

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  10. dime (9,468 comments) says:

    it is impressive to have falling prison numbers in such a shit economy too

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  11. David Garrett (6,461 comments) says:

    I have never understood why we dont build high-rise prisons – as are common in the US – on vacant sites in industrial parts of the major cities..such prisons are extremely hard to escape from (you’ve got to get to the ground floor first, and that aint easy) and there is no “magnet” effect for prisoners’ families and “associates” to move to towns like Wanganui.

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  12. David Garrett (6,461 comments) says:

    dime: that’ll be because the state of the economy has f…all to do with crime rates, and never has. The “unemployment causes crime” theory is the biggest load of bullshit pushed by the left – and that’s saying something. It has been comprehensively disproven across time (our lowest ever crime stats were in 1932, in the depths of the depression) and in different countries (unemployment reached 16% in California immediately following the GFC with no impact on crime rates)

    And still they keep repeating it as gospel….

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  13. Yoza (1,551 comments) says:

    David Garrett (1,061) Says: “Here we are almost two years later and not only has his dire prediction not come to pass, but prisoner numbers are FALLING..”

    I’m not sure where Garrett gets his figures from, as according to the Department of Corrections prison populations are trending upwards. If anyone looks at the graph they will notice seasonal drops around December, January and then trending up again around February. I’m assuming this is because many eligible for parole get out around Christmas time (I could be completely wrong on this point.) However, Corrections projections are for the prison population to increase.

    Where prisons are run privately there is an incentive for the owners of those businesses to lobby government to introduce harsher sentencing regimes to provide larger prison populations from which they can profit.

    Does anyone know if the Sensible Sentencing Lynch Mob receive any funding from Serco’s Incarcerating People for Profit arm?

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  14. Mark (1,366 comments) says:

    This argument is idealogical. National will continue to argue (whether the evidence supports them or not) that private prisons are better because private enterprise is simply better at doing stuff) and labour will argue (and again whether the evidence supports them or not) that the state is better at running infrastructure like prisons.

    The American evidence is mixed. There is a trade off between cost saving and recidivism reduction. A number of the state governments want cost savings as the major priority and private prisons give it to them through cheaper labour costs and little in the way of rehabilitation programs. This is not a criticism of private prisons, they are simply providing the service they have been contracted to do by the state governments. Some states however want more rehabilitation and pay higher costs for that and the savings from private contracting of prisons are negligible in those contracts.

    Private prisons have been attractive in the US primarily because they have been able to reduce labour costs. Labour costs make up 60% to 70% of prison running costs and not having to provide the pension and health plans that the state prison staff have embedded in their terms of employment contracts over the years enables them to substantially reduce its labour costs. (Shades of the POAL dispute it seems).

    Another danger in comparing the efficiency between the state and private sector run facilities has some similarities with private hospitals v public hospitals. Private prisons tend overseas to be medium and low security prisons. The state tends to run those prisons with the tough nuts in them. A bit like private hospitals doing the programmable elective surgery while public hospitals are left to deal with the trauma and emergency surgery and then having politicians claim that private hospitals are more efficiently run.

    Only time will tell whether Serco can deliver the promised results. But it is Paremoremo and to a lesser extent Rimutaka that will be dealing with the worst of the prison population so lets hope the politicians take that into account when looking at comparative results.

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  15. BlairM (2,288 comments) says:

    Charlie Shovel is hilarious. You couldn’t satirise that man – he does it by himself. One minute he is complaining about increasing prison populations, then the next he is complaining about job losses from closing them! All of which shows that he has no consistent policy on the subject whatsoever.

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  16. David Garrett (6,461 comments) says:

    ‘Yoza’…. Does that mean “idiot” in some language of which I am unaware? You say that graph – which is very interesting – is from “Department of Corrections”…I note no citation at the foot of it, which is unusual….what is the exact source of it please?

    The “Sensible Sentencing Lynch mob” as you derisively call an organization consisting very largely of victims of violent crime, receives almost all of its funding from its members, and a very few private individual donors. Unlike Workman and his ilk, it receives no government funding, and none from any major corporates. But you will no doubt continue to believe the myth put about my those who simply cant believe that an organization led by a farmer with high school education has had such a profound influence on policy.

    Mark: a very sensible contribution.

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  17. David Garrett (6,461 comments) says:

    Come on Yoza..”what’s the source of that graph” is hardly a hard question to answer…is it??

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  18. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    Um, from the link it is a Department of Corrections graph…

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  19. David Garrett (6,461 comments) says:

    Well..um…why is there no source at the bottom? I have limited understanding of “links” but I believe you can name a link anything; if I knew how, I could link to a paper of my own and call the link “wisdom of Solomon” or “NZ Government” couldnt I?

    But let’s assume it comes from where he says….where is the evidence of a tripling in prisoner numbers two years from June 2010 that Workman gravely predicted?

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  20. Yoza (1,551 comments) says:

    “‘Yoza’…. Does that mean “idiot” in some language of which I am unaware?”

    Sort of. When I started working as a 16 year old as a telephone lineman at the NZPO I spent a portion of my traineeship at Post Office Headquarters helping change the old type dial phones to the newer SX2000 PABX system push button phones. At this time ‘Boys from the Blackstuff’ was a popular TV series in which a character named Yosser Hughes bumbled through life with the catch phrase “Gizza a job, I’m Yosser Hughes I can do anything.” (Very simplistic synopsis I know, but I have only so much patience for this sort of thing.) Anyway, Don, the skilled guy on our gang caught me making a bit of a mess of soldering jumpers onto the mainframe and started calling me Yosser Hughes; I still get called Yoza by guys at Telecom I used to work with.

    Here are the links to the Corrections Dept data:

    http://www.corrections.govt.nz/about-us/facts_and_statistics/prisons/march_2014.html

    June 2011 update:http://www.corrections.govt.nz/about-us/facts_and_statistics/prisons/june_2011.html

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  21. cows4me (248 comments) says:

    Charles should be happy with the closing of old prisons, he will only have to visit one or two facilities now to catch up with his constituents.

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  22. David Garrett (6,461 comments) says:

    They guy called Don wasnt the late Don Emms by any chance?

    Thanks for the links.

    And funnily enough you havent mentioned Workman’s utterly wrong prediction…

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  23. RRM (9,471 comments) says:

    David Garrett (1,066) Says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Well..um…why is there no source at the bottom? I have limited understanding of “links” but I believe you can name a link anything; if I knew how, I could link to a paper of my own and call the link “wisdom of Solomon” or “NZ Government” couldnt I?

    And yet you call Yoza an “idiot”… :-/

    If you hover your mouse cursor over the link so that your browser displays the actual URL of the link, you will notice that the website it is taking you to is http://www.corrections.govt.nz

    BACK ON TOPIC: More “We disagree with whatever they said” from labour; disappointing.

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  24. David Garrett (6,461 comments) says:

    RRM: I think you’d better read both posts again – mine and his…s l o w l y…..

    But since you mention it, one can have technical expertise and still be a complete idiot…like a person who would believe bullshit such as that SST gets funding from the evil SERCO so it will keep urging the government to send them more crims..

    And Yoza, on that subject, I have just spoken to McVicar..
    he confrims that no major corporates donate any money, and he says three different journos have asked over the years to see SST’s audited accounts…all have been supplied with them….no story has ever come out…because there IS no story…Noone apparently wants to read a story called “Lobby group chiefly funded by small donations from thousands of its members”

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  25. Yoza (1,551 comments) says:

    “They guy called Don wasnt the late Don Emms by any chance?”

    No, Don Finlayson, former All White goal keeper.

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  26. David Garrett (6,461 comments) says:

    Yoza: So when will the explosion in prisoner numbers Workman predicted as a result of 3S start happening you think? Next year? In five years? Ten??

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  27. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    It is gratifying to hear that they are building new prisons, as the old stock are just that, and at 10,000 prisoners maybe an extra 2000 is needed and that could be state of the art on both Islands.

    I favour a two tier system with the 3S crowd being kept in the old shit accommodation and those under 3S having access to trade training and classrooms to aid their rehabilitation into society.

    SST and Garth McVicer deserve medals each and every week with the shit they have to put up with, let alone for what they actually do for victims.

    I would suggest all you namby pamby socialistas shut your faces until you have spent a 24hr period alongside them and the people they serve.
    then you might be qualified to breath air about it.

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  28. Northland Wahine (648 comments) says:

    Could not have put it better myself M McKee.

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  29. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    ”not enough prisoners in Invercargill” ?? I am unsure of current policy but in the past , prisoners were sent as far as possible away from their home towns, thus a lot of young Maori boys were sent to Invercargill borstal as it was known then..I don’t know if it necessarily follows that local prisoners go to local prisons. It would depend on numbers and security classifications.
    Awhile back , the local CHCH police Commander said that the top ten CHCH crime families had all moved down from the North Island; presumably they would have moved down here when men were sent to CHCH men’s.
    Sending prisoners away from families probably reduces the chance of rehabilitation and it punishes the families.

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  30. Scott Chris (5,884 comments) says:

    Perhaps someone should take David Garrett’s spade off him.

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  31. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    Good points Joana
    Maybe we could let the crime families have 6 months in Auckland and then 6 months in Christchurch so all their family can visit them in turn?
    I’d like to think that prison would be a disincentive to crime though, wouldn’t you?

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  32. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    You bring up an interesting point Joana
    Why don’t we rewrite the Acts so that a list (including photos) of the crime families per city with lists of convictions and charges is available to all, say after 3 convictions and make it retrospective from the enactment date.

    Maybe we should consider doing the same with all sex offenders and remove name suppression from all who have had it and been convicted as well for the last 20 years just to be fair.

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  33. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Michael,
    How much experience have you actually had? You are sounding very theoretical.

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  34. Nostalgia-NZ (4,914 comments) says:

    The only benefit in having a new prison at Wiri is if some of the older prisons are closed, the onus should be on reducing the prison muster over a number of years, not looking at an increasing number as they seem to be indicating. Serco’s has a very generous allowance of reducing recidivism by only 10%, I would have thought perhaps 15 to 20% over the contract period. I don’t see why Government shouldn’t be looking to reduce spending money on prisons in a big way, a falling muster will do that – particularly where they have the chance to ‘off load’ the responsibility to a private contractor on a pay on performance basis.

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  35. Bob R (1,340 comments) says:

    **** the onus should be on reducing the prison muster over a number of years, not looking at an increasing number as they seem to be indicating.***

    There will be an inevitable increase given demographic trends, no? That is a lessen from Steven Levitt’s research – if groups with statistically higher crime rates have fewer children then crime will fall. If they have higher rates than average birth rates then crime will rise.

    http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/DonohueLevittTheImpactOfLegalized2001.pdf

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  36. Mirror-me (7 comments) says:

    How does imprisoning an offender help a victim of crime? In cases where the offender is too dangerous to be in the community lock them away for everyones safety but other wise, why bother? Imprisonment costs this country a fortune, achieves little, and doesn’t assist in reducing overall crime and certainly doesn’t consider the offender, their needs, or help them to recover. We need a better system, perhaps one like the Canadian’s use.

    http://www.crcvc.ca/docs/restjust.pdf

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  37. Yoza (1,551 comments) says:

    David Garrett (1,069) Says:
    “Yoza: So when will the explosion in prisoner numbers Workman predicted as a result of 3S start happening you think? Next year? In five years? Ten??”

    I’m not sure how I’m responsible for something someone called Workman claimed would happen if the ‘Three Strikes’ law was enacted. I was only pointing out, according to Correction Dept. data, that prison populations were trending upwards.

    However, if you would like an answer to your question I hope this helps: According to the data provided by corrections the Prison population is increasing at about 7% every two years. If this continues at a steady rate I would expect the prison population to double every 20 years.

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  38. big bruv (13,316 comments) says:

    I find myself agreeing with Charles Chauvel, however not for the same reasons.

    I simply do not give a toss if our old prisons are ‘inhumane’, I do not care if they are old and damp, I do not care if they make life miserable for the criminals.
    We may well need a new prison near Auckland and I have no issue with that at all but there is no way we should be decreasing the number of prison beds available. We need to get tougher on crime and that means locking up more criminals, if the conditions in our prisons are miserable then that is all the better.

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  39. nasska (10,689 comments) says:

    Bob R

    We’d better keep building then……locally at least, the buggers breed like rats.

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  40. Bob R (1,340 comments) says:

    @ nasska,

    Well exactly. That is also why if the government had any nous it would make contraception a condition of welfare entitlements.

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  41. Toa Greening (20 comments) says:

    There is nearly 1000 empty prison beds and a dropping prisoner count. The full facts is that the Wiri Prison is not needed. Therefore the real question that should be asked is why is Government wasting money on a prison that is not needed? I can only assume that some type of misguided ideology to experiment with PPP prisons is the driving factor.

    The prison will cost more to run than is being revealed. It is being built on a very small physical footprint which means it has to be multilevel which immediately increases the costs. It is being built on an old quarry which immediately increases the costs of physical works. It is being built beside the Wiri Oil terminal and has to be built to accommodate the existing Women prisoners in an emergency as it is in the blast path if the terminal was to explode. Finally there is a possibility that both the Womens and Mens Wiri prison may need to be structurally reinforced against the Oil terminal in the near future. Essentially Corrections could not have choosen a more expensive site to develop in all of New Zealand. This is the economically prudent government which is blinded by its own desperate PPP mantra to build the prison.

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  42. Nostalgia-NZ (4,914 comments) says:

    Toa Greening
    11.43

    It’s a disaster site for sure and not needed unless a heap of other prisons are to be closed.

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