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New Zealand: Private prisons a "claw in the door"

Wednesday, 18 February 2004, 10:28 am
Press Release: Green Party

Green MP Nandor Tanczos has accused the Auckland Central Remand Prison of being a front for a rapacious global correctional conglomeration that is seeking to dominate the world's prison services.

Australasian Correctional Management, which runs the remand prison, is a subsidiary of The Wackenhut Corporation, a part of the Group4 Falck group of companies, the world's second largest security services provider. In 2000 Wackenhut received a placing in the (UK) Observer's Hall of Infamy "Golden Vulture" awards for, among other things, "sadism, greed and frightening incompetence" and has been subject to allegations of sexual abuse, physical violence and unsafe work practises in their facilities.

"Wackenhut and Group4 Falck aim to dominate the global prison and security sector, so of course they want to make a good impression at New Zealand's first privately run prison. It's simply a 'claw in the door' for this 'golden vulture'," said Nandor, the Green spokesperson on Justice.

"This is no criticism of the General Manager, staff or Iwi Whanui at Auckland Central Remand Prison. In fact it is primarily due to their excellent work that this Remand Prison has been successful."

"But anyone who thinks this is an indication of how the private sector generally runs prisons has been sucked in by the Wackenhut shell game."

The government's Corrections Amendment Bill, which would ban privately run prisons, is dependant on Green Party support to pass. Green Party policy has opposed the privatisation of prisons since 1999.

"How can anyone think the free market is the answer to the problems of running a prison system? The key to a successful business is repeat customers. That creates a perverse incentive".

Nandor agreed with Iwi Whanui O Tamaki Makaurau, the board representing six northern iwi, that the remand centre was well managed. He attributed that to its talented general manager, Dom Karauria, the active involvement of tangata whenua, to it being a brand new facility with the opportunity for a new start, and that it is a remand prison without the same pressures and obligations found in the public system.

"The fact that it is privately operated is not intrinsic to its success," said Nandor. "This is clear from the problems that dogged the prison before Mr Karauria was appointed, problems which staff and Iwi Whanui O Tamaki Makaurau have acknowledged to me.

"The real issue for Corrections Minster Paul Swain is how to sort out the public prison system. That will be the aim of Green Party negotiations over the bill."

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