Corrections Minister makes historic visit to prisonCorrections
Corrections Minister Judith Collins today visited Rimutaka Prison in the first official inspection of a New Zealand prison by a woman Corrections Minister.
"Today was my first prison visit as Minister. It was an opportunity for me to see a working prison first hand and to speak with staff about their day-to-day work and issues," Ms Collins says.
Ms Collins visited the prison, near Upper Hutt, with Associate Minister of Corrections Dr Pita Sharples and Department of Corrections Chief Executive Barry Matthews.
The Minister inspected a variety of areas of the prison including health, education and drug treatment - an area of focus for the government.
"The number of prisoners involved in drug and alcohol treatment will double under this government because we believe this is a vital ingredient in reducing reoffending," Ms Collins says.
Today's visit also gave the Minister a chance to look at building work onsite.
"Rimutaka's rapid expansion over the last five years has meant that building work is required to improve the prison's infrastructure and consequently make the prison more efficient and safe," Ms Collins says.
"The Corrections sector was sadly neglected by the Labour government. It is clear that prisons are under pressure as a result, and that more beds are required around the country.
"In the current economic climate we will be investigating the best and most cost-effective means to add this capacity."
Ms Collins paid tribute to the Corrections officers at Rimutaka and around the country.
"The Department of Corrections has to manage the most difficult members of society, and its focus must remain on improving both the safety of the public, and the safety and security of its frontline staff."