The decision to spend $750 million for just 600 beds at Waikeria Prison is another example of the Government’s bad spending choices and recklessness when it comes to law and order, National’s Corrections spokesperson David Bennett says.
“This Government is spending three quarters of what the previous Government had planned to spend on building a 1500-bed facility at Waikeria Prison, but getting just one quarter of the prison beds.
“The National Government had a plan to spend $1 billion to build 1500 beds at Waikeria Prison, with capacity to expand to 2000 if required, which Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis recommended that Cabinet implement.
“Papers reveal that Mr Davis advised Cabinet that large-scale prisons ‘are the most efficient and cost-effective way to add quality capacity to the prison network’ and that ‘building small and medium scale prisons is significantly more costly’.
“But Mr Davis’ colleagues ignored his advice and went ahead with building a much smaller facility, for nearly the same amount as they would have spent implementing National’s plan.
“It makes no sense, not only for taxpayers but also for prisoners given the smaller prison is going to make it harder for them to access the rehabilitation programmes they need.
“Mr Davis himself acknowledged in a Cabinet paper that smaller prisons ‘can pose challenges when it comes to supporting prisoner rehabilitation’, while larger prisons allow ‘a full range of specialist facilities and rehabilitation programmes’.
“Sadly we’re used to this Government making bad spending decisions, but it can hardly claim to be focused on rehabilitating prisoners if it’s ignoring advice on how best to do it.
“That’s just going to put prisoners at higher risk of reoffending upon release, which is going to make our communities less safe.”