Prison population at an all time high

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

The prison population has reached an all time high and double-bunking prisoners could be the Department of Corrections answer to help cope with the increase.

In August last year, the prison population reached over 9000 for the first time, and since then the population has continued to climb.

As of February this year, the prison population is 9,360, making it an all time high for the department.

With prisoner volume on the rise, Corrections has confirmed it is looking to maximise bed space in prison sites, but says that it's still in the planning stages on how best to manage the situation.

"While we have been able to manage muster pressure within our existing capacity by better optimising our use of prison accommodation through national oversight; deferring planned maintenance work; and reconfiguring prison units, these initiatives are not sufficient to manage future increases," explains Jeremy Lightfoot, National Commissioner.

But it's an issue that is not going away any time soon, according to the latest Justice Sector forecast, the prison population is set to continue to rise.

Double-bunking is not a new concept in the New Zealand prison system with a small percentage of prisoners already double-bunked.

Corrections says the increase comes down to many factors including prisoners serving more of their sentences, more people being held in prison on remand and crime levels.