Topic: Prison

Proposed prison unit closure hit with criticism

updated By Maiki Sherman

A proposal announced by the Department of Corrections to close three prison units has been met with strong criticism by the Labour Party’s corrections spokesperson, Kelvin Davis.

The proposal would see around 260 prison officers lose their jobs. Mr Davis says those officers have been trained at the taxpayer’s expense and the only beneficiary of the proposal would be private companies who have secured contracts to run the new Auckland-based prisons.

“Serco the owners of Wiri will now be laughing all the way to the bank,” Mr Davis said. However, Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga says the proposed closures and substantial investment in new fit-for-purpose facilities are a step forward in ensuring safer and secure facilities.

“I understand that this proposal may be unsettling for affected staff but Corrections will have extensive support and assistance in place should the proposal go ahead.” Department of Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith says if the proposal ngoes ahead, the three prisons will be closed over the next year. “While overall the number of beds for prisoners will increase by 433 this year, they’ll be modern, safe and focused on rehabilitation, unlike the units in Waikeria, Tongariro/Rangipo and Rimutaka Prisons that are proposed for closure,” Mr Smith said.