No American-style mega prison, Government delivers new thinkingCorrections
- 500 bed high security prison to be constructed at Waikeria
- First-of-its-kind 100 bed mental health facility
- Completion due by early 2022
The Government will build a world-leading high security replacement prison at Waikeria, setting a new direction for Corrections in New Zealand while ditching the American-style mega prison planned by the previous National Government, Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis announced today.
The prison will include a first-of-its-kind in New Zealand mental health facility to address the high rate of mental health issues prevalent in the prison population.
“Today sets a new direction for prisons in New Zealand, putting public safety first while delivering real rehabilitation and mental health support to reduce reoffending,” said Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis at the site of the new prison at Waikeria.
The new high-security prison, to be delivered by early 2022, will accommodate 500 prisoners, with the ability to provide mental health treatment for a further 100 offenders.
“New Zealand is safer when the most violent offenders are locked away, but prison is also a place where offenders should be rehabilitated, not trained by other prisoners to become more hardened criminals.
“This strikes the right balance between showing hardened criminals the consequences of their actions, and providing a new facility that can work to rehabilitate prisoners and reduce our appalling rate of re-offending.
“The new mental health facility will service urgent need within our prison system. 62 per cent of prisoners have been diagnosed with a mental health or substance abuse disorder in the last twelve months. We currently do very little to help turn these people’s lives around.
“National’s plan to build a mega prison for up to 2,000 prisoners at Waikeria was a clear sign it had given up. They are expensive and ineffective, becoming super-sized factories that just turn low level criminals into hardened criminals.
“This will be one of New Zealand’s smallest prisons. We know smaller prisons make rehabilitation more likely, are closer to communities and link better to local work programmes.
“Prisons shouldn’t be resorts and offenders must face consequences, but we can’t expect prisoners to turn their lives around and walk out the doors ready to be better people if we lock them away in a breeding ground for crime.
“Today’s decision draws a line under New Zealand’s failed prison policy and sets us on a new path towards better prisons, that make our communities safer,” said Kelvin Davis.