Was it a slip-up by Simon Powers? In his press release he says, “And you can expect to hear more on sentencing and prisons in the next few months.” Nothing about privatising prisons.
But in his speech to the weekend conference he says quite clearly”
“We will allow tendering for the management of prisons by non-government providers.”
If it’s not a slip-up it seems a strange way to announce a major policy. Were they trying to slip it in under the radar?
As Phil Goff points out, it’s pure ideology. We know from experience in NZ and Britain that it’s not about saving money or improving management. Goff:
“Private management of the Auckland Central Remand Prison resulted in a higher operating budget for remand prisoners of $42,000 per annum when compared with the public sector costs of $36,000 per annum.”
In Britain, GSL (formerly Group 4) has shown the shortcomings of profit-driven detention. A 2005 BBC documentary Detention Undercover: The Real Story showed GSL staff at the Oakington Immigration Reception Centre shouting racial abuse and mistreating inmates. At Rye Hill prison one suicide-risk prisoner died from self-sustained injuries. “It emerged that nobody had entered the cell for 15 hours.” In 2006 GSL topped the table of complaints of misconduct from asylum seekers and their lawyers, with 30% of all complaints made.
Do we want this here? Yes, our prison “services” need serious attention, which is what star-performer Goff has been about. (I might note in passing that the rot seemed to set in when the Corrections Dept was run by a former Treasury official.) But the “quick fix” afforded by private sector management is more likely to make things worse, if you look at the evidence.