New prisons for old

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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