Private management will bring innovation, effectiveness to prisons

  • Judith Collins

Competitive tendering of prison management will bring greater innovation, efficiency and cost effectiveness to the corrections system, says Corrections Minister Judith Collins. 

The Corrections (Contract Management of Prisons) Bill 2009 began its first reading in the House yesterday. The Bill will amend the Corrections Act to allow competitive tendering for the contract management of prisons on a case-by-case basis. 

"It is crucial that we deliver the very best corrections service for New Zealand. To achieve this, I believe we shouldn't limit our choices," Ms Collins says.

"In order to have a world-class corrections system, we need exposure to world-class innovation and expertise. Allowing private companies to provide custodial services creates an opportunity to benefit from private sector initiative and know-how." 

Legislation provided for the private management of prisons in 1995, but this was repealed in 2004 by the Labour-led Government. This saw the end of the private management of the Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP).

"Labour's decision was purely ideological. It had nothing to do with the management of ACRP which was widely acknowledged as being highly successful," Ms Collins says.

"In fact, it was so successful, the Department of Corrections adopted many of its innovations when it took over in July 2005."

The Department of Corrections' Chief Executive would be accountable for prisons under both public and private management. Contractors' performance will be overseen by prison monitors and contractors would be subject to strict reporting requirements.

Ms Collins says public safety is the top consideration in all decisions made about the management of offenders. 

"The Government believes that this Bill provides an opportunity for innovation in safe and effective offender management that is consistent with the guiding principles of the Corrections Act."