Prison numbers, big $s

Today the Government announced that ‘prison capacity’ will be increased by about 1800 beds on existing sites.

Stuff says it will cost $1 billion: Government’s $1b plans to sleep 1800 more prisoners creating ‘schools for crime’ – Labour

The Government’s plans to spend a billion dollars on more beds for New Zealand’s burgeoning prison population shows it is “deadly serious” about cracking down on methamphetamine and violent crime, Corrections Minister Judith Collins says.

Collins announced the plans for another 1800 beds around the country, saying that although levels of crime had reduced, the number of prisoners had increased “faster than projected”.

Government claims crime is reducing and reoffending rates have reduced by 7% so is this all due to longer sentences? Or what?

Prime Minister John Key said the higher prisoner numbers reflected the changing nature of crime, with the overall crime rate falling but violent and drug-related crimes on the rise.

“It’s a bit of an international trend: you saw overall crime rates falling internationally for a while and we were consistent with that, and they continue to fall in total numbers, but as I say, that hardened end [is] definitely going up a bit.”

Fewer crimes but more serious crimes, so longer sentences.

NZ Herald puts the cost at $2.5 billion – Tax cuts could be affected by $2.5b plan for more prison beds

The booming prison population will hit the Government’s books by an extra $2.5 billion over about five years – with Finance Minister Bill English saying it will “limit choices” about other spending.

The $1.8 billion surplus announced last week is just for one year.

Asked if the outlay could reduce possible tax cuts, English said, “it will have an impact because it’s a very large spend”.

“I wouldn’t want to judge that because it is a bit early. But certainly spending this kind of money on prison capacity is going to reduce other options.

“This is something that has to be done…we’d certainly prefer to be in a position where this wasn’t happening.”

Not surprisingly there has been a lot of criticism of money having to go into prison beds rather than hospital beds and other comparisons,

Government media release:

The Government has approved plans to increase prison capacity on existing prison sites by approximately 1800 beds, Corrections Minister Judith Collins says.

Despite significant progress in reducing crime the number of prisoners has increased faster than projected. This is because the proportion of offenders charged with serious crimes has risen, meaning more people are being remanded in custody and serving more of their sentences in prison.

“We have to respond through new investment or we will create unacceptable safety risks for staff, prisoners and the public, and be less effective at rehabilitating prisoners.

“We’re already adding 341 prisoner places through the use of double bunking and converting facilities to accommodate prisoner beds. This is part of the financial commitment we made in Budget 2016 to Phase One of the Prison Capacity Programme, but as we look out over the next five years this will not be enough.

“To meet the growth in the prison population we need to invest in a further 1800 prisoner places in the network under Phase Two of the Programme, at a construction cost of around $1 billion.”

The Government has approved an increase in double bunking in the Northland Region Corrections Facility at Ngawha by 80 beds. It has also approved a new accommodation block to be built at Mt Eden Corrections Facility, adding 245 beds.

Ministers will next month consider a detailed business case for formal approval of a new 1500 bed facility at the existing Waikeria Prison in the Waikato. Corrections will also propose increasing the delivery of rehabilitation programmes including Drug Treatment Units, reintegration programmes, education and training programmes and Special Treatment Units to help address violent and sexual offending.

“Phase Two of the prison programme won’t be just in bricks and mortar but will also be aimed at the drivers of crime, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence.”

The new facility at Waikeria Prison will be operated by Corrections but built and maintained by a Public Private Partnership, the same model currently being used by Corrections in building its new maximum security facility in the grounds of Auckland Prison.

“The construction of a new facility for around 1500 prisoners at Waikeria which could be delivered in two stages – would be a significant contribution to ensuring that Corrections can accommodate the forecast numbers of prisoners.”

Most of the forecast demand is expected to come from the upper North Island and Waikeria is in a good location to serve this demand. Being close to the areas of need reduces the costs of operating the prison network and helps keep prisoners close to family and support networks.

The Government is committed to ensuring value for money for taxpayers and all the proposed beds are on prison land where a lot of the infrastructure is already in place.

At Mt Eden Corrections Facility the earthworks platform already exists for the new structure. The current development was built with future expansion a possibility, and at Waikeria Prison there’s ample space for a facility to hold the increased number of prisoners.

“Getting this proposal underway now will help ensure the growth is well planned, and that the prison network can help keep our communities safe in the future.”



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  1. @kimbakerwilson pointed out this logo…

    …and suggested “This (new?) Department of Corrections logo looks like a representation of double bunking, no?”

  2. duperez

     /  18th October 2016

    Look on the upside. Those crying out for more offenders to be put in prison can be sure there will be jobs for their offspring and their kids and relations as more prison staff will be needed. (Unless the priority is to get immigrants in for the work.)

    There will be lifetime of work for those who get to look after the ones who’ve been locked up and had the keys chucked away. Those suggesting that penalty will be delighted about the career prospects.

    • Judith Collins: “I’m sure that there will be jobs available now for those [prison guards who lost their jobs recently]. The department is currently recruiting 600 people, 100 of whom are from offshore who are very experienced. What they always like to have is a good mix.”

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  18th October 2016

    What is happening to recidivism rates?

    • Down 7% apparently.

    • Stuff: Asked whether the Government would fail in its plans to reduce reoffending by 25 per cent before June 2017, Collins said with hindsight it was “probably not the right target” and should have focussed on reducing overall offending, rather than reoffending.

  4. Hard to argue with this prison sentence:

    A prisoner who ran a methamphetamine ring from his Rimutaka cell in 2014 was today sentenced to 13 years and two months.
    Egyptian national Mohamed Soliman Hussain Atta appeared in the Wellington High Court where he pled guilty to seven representative charges of importing P and one charge of conspiracy to supply P, police said.
    The court heard Atta’s meth ring was run from his prison cell over three months in 2014 with the help of multiple cell phones, including one given to him by a former Corrections officer.

    • Klik Bate

       /  18th October 2016

      I find plenty to argue with it. Why should we have to pay for this mongrels keep for the next 13 years ❗ If he had been a Maori living in Australia, they would have put his arse on the next plane back here.

      Doesn’t this country have a Star-Alliance with Egyptair ?

  5. Corky

     /  18th October 2016

    Great stuff. The bottom line is someone in prison can’t commit crimes( I think?) But given over 60 percent of our jail muster is made up of drug offenders it seems unnecessary.

    Why not decriminalise all drug offences and have registered drug users. Once registered the person could not be prosecuted for drug use…..but would receive no benefits or medical help for drug related medical conditions. You die. Anyone using drugs and isn’t registered gets prosecuted in the usual way.

    Being hard on crime is a vote catcher. National is already electioneering. That’s why we also have a budget surplus ….the government hasn’t been spending. They will do that in the next budget. More great stuff from a great government.

    • Hmmm, an interesting analysis Corky. Another possibility is that if Key’s government uses its ‘surplus’ on tax cuts for the rich they risk triggering a ‘last straw’ reaction in the marginal, overburdened, on-the-brink of defection, evaporating [so-called] middle-class, resultiing in National being perfunctorily swept out of office …

      So, a year out from the general election … What to do?
      What shall the spin-doctors do?

      Invoke the “baddies” of course … [threatening music] … DRUGS!!! and CRIME!!!!

      If you’re not gonna get your tax cuts at least you’ll know you’re safer in your gated, alarmed, CCTV & security monitored communities because more police resources are being expended on drugs and more crims are being locked away from the divided society … I’d call it vote maintenance … “Rob Peter to appease Peter” … or something …

      At least there’s no additional direct welfare payments eh? Better to use it to lock beneficiaries up … It’s kind of like welfare … but not … Sort of ‘inverse welfare’ … It’s Clayton’s Welfare … Ambulance at the bottom of the cliff welfare …

      • Corky

         /  18th October 2016

        Yes, all that is possible. The election probably will rest with the middle-class cafe set. As an aside, I have a niece who lives in one of the poorer suburbs of a major city. Once while visiting I watched a family move in across the road. The late model Subaru Station wagon, the I7 phone the daughter ( I presume) was using, mums conservative slacks and full make up, all screamed middleclass. But what were they doing in this suburb? ”We call them egg-heads” my niece said. Most get the bash for staring and thinking their shit doesn’t stink.”
        There are others, I asked? Yeah, more of them lately, came the reply Then it struck, these unfortunates were the middleclass who had to forfeit their former lifestyle. My guess, the mortgage couldn’t be payed, or dad lost his middle management position. I felt really sorry for them. The ignominy and embarrassment of living in a place they could never invite former friend too, and to make matters worse, having little chance of forging a relationship with their new neighbours. As for the kids, unless they bused out for schooling, it was the bash on the first day of school.

  6. This is from the US…

    …but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar pattern here.

    • Cheers Pete. I heartily agree and strongly suspect the same pattern exists here, although we might call it “The De-Institutionalisation Effect”? Turn ’em out on the street and mostly they’ll find their way to prison …

      Mental hospitals cost too much, let’s face it, with having to treat and medicate people and employ doctors and psychiatric nurses. Prison officers come a whole lot cheaper …

      Another fabulous ‘outcome’ for “economic reform” …

      • patupaiarehe

         /  18th October 2016

        You might be surprised to learn how much a ‘corrections officer’ actually gets paid PZ…

        • Not very much surprised at all Patupaiarehe, although I confess to being out-of-touch with pay scales for young and middle-aged people supporting families and paying mortgages …

          Staffing levels would be an important factor in prisons I dare say? Prisoners can probably be monitored by CCTV a great deal more than say patients in hospital or students at school …? Less staff on moderate pay rates means savings, compared to higher levels of staffing at similar rates in mental hospitals? I stand by my “fabulous outcome” statement …

          I gather $60K is the new ‘poor’ …?

          “New graduate nurses earn about $47,000 a year. Those with three to five years’ experience can earn between $54,000 and $68,000.”

          Qualified Secondary Teacher $46K – $75K …

          Caregivers earn $29.5K – $36.8K …

          Go figure …

    • duperez

       /  18th October 2016

      Had I the ability to draw a cartoon of the graph and present it on here it would have two other lines. One would be tagged, “On political blogsites,” the other “In politics.” 😊

  7. patupaiarehe

     /  18th October 2016

    We’re already adding 341 prisoner places through the use of double bunking and converting facilities to accommodate prisoner beds.

    While this might sound like a good idea in theory, the reality is a bit different. Most inmates don’t want to share a cell, and the easiest way out of being made to, is to bash your cellmate. You will be sent to solitary for a while, where you get a bigger cell all to yourself. If you behave there, you get sent back to a regular wing, and guess what? You get your own cell 😀
    A billion dollars would be far better spent on addressing the causes of crime, rather than locking people up, IMHO.

  8. Isn’t it interesting.. NZ has effective zero-tolerance to ‘drugs’ (esp. cannabis) & our prisons are overflowing.. Holland has decrim. cannabis & I hear they have closed a few prisons.

    SO.. who has got it right ? :/

    It costs >$90k/year to keep a ‘convicted druggie’ locked up..surely the SMART move would be to spend that on drug treatment & education. Finally admit the drug war has failed to meet its stated objective; ‘a drug free world’ & in fact has increased overall use levels, over the last 40 years.

    ‘Team Key’ are just pandering to the ‘tough on law & order brigade’ even IF its causing more harm than it resolves !


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