Closing the Corrections Clunkers

The government is closing down the old clunker prisons in the regions when the new prison at Wiri comes on stream:

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.

I love the investive system. Just like when a prisoner escapes, the private operator cops a fine. Now with the private contracts definable and measurable outcomes are being built in to ensure that recidivism is addressed.

It is such a pity that Labour and the prison officers union are opposed to such accountability.

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”.

“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.”

The proposal made “little economic or social sense”.

The National-led Government should invest the $1 billion in improving existing state assets instead of boosting the bottom line of a private company, he said.

So when Labour is opposed to the sale of state assets they mean they prefer the state continues to own and operate Victorian era prisons and prisons built in the first third of the last century.


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  • Grizz30

    1 Billion over 25 years. You mean 40 million a year. You mean 40,000 per prison bed per year. All due respect, that does not sound extraordinary.

    As for the impact of regional prisons on local communities, talk to the people of Kaikohe and see how they feel about criminal families moving to the area to support criminal families.

  • johnbronkhorst

    “The National-led Government should invest the $1 billion in improving existing state assets instead of boosting the bottom line of a private company, he said.”….Mr Chavell. How much improvement in state assets are you going to get with $40 million per year?…This from a clown who’s turn in office over saw the building of Prison (hilton hotel) for $100 million, that eventually cost what? $400 million?…I may have my numbers wrong, but you get the drift!

  • Mr_Blobby

    Torn on this one.
    On one side you save on the cost of transporting prisoners back and forth from the more remote prisons. On the other hand I like the idea of housing societies scum in appropriately grotty and unpleasant conditions as far away from society as possible.
    Do not like the idea of housing them in our overpriced 5 star hotel style prisons, complete with own room, toilet etc not to mention the better food than they have at home. How that deters recidivism I don’t know.
    My ideal prison for scum is overcrowded prisons, 30 to a cell, sleeping on a rollup matt and a diet of rice and fish head soup.
    Saw a documentary on a Maori girl convicted of drugs smuggling and sentenced to 20+ years in a prison in south East Asia, on being released early, 11 years, her last words were I never want to go back there, here she would not want to leave.

  • Mr_Blobby

    Anyone considered dangerous or shows signs of anti social behavior is shackled.

  • Bawaugh

    There are benifits in having a local prison as maintaining contacts with family helps rehabilitation. However when the country is in the red something must give.

    Hopefully they will be kept up as local tourist attractions.

    Maybe we could get that guy from Arazona over here, then we could keep local prisons and have them running at a low cost. And having prisoners in tents would mean that they may not want to come back.

  • Toa Greening

    You totally miss the point….. There are over 1000 empty prison beds and a dropping prisoner population. The Wiri Prison is not needed and therefore a total waste of money.I can only assume that pure ideology to experiment with PPP prisons is the driving factor.

    • Greg M

       I sort of agree Toa, however there are two things to consider.

      1: The public are sick of softcock judges and lenient sentences, I am expecting this to change and a new influx of prisoners entering the system over the next few years.

      2: Rather than have 1000 prisoners spread out over ten 100 year old prisons it makes more sense to hold them all in one modern cost effective facility. Maybe their family / whanau won’t be able to visit them as often, well jimmy cracked corn and Guess what? I don’t care. Maybe they should have thought of the family a bit more before offending.

      No need to experiment with PPP prisons, it is already working very well at Mt Eden.

      Cheers G.

      • Toa Greening

        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

      • Greg M

         Very true Toa, if they say $ 200m to build we know they mean $ 600m.
        A better site on existing crown land must be available somewhere ?