The Government is wasting money by spending $900 million on a new prison full of beds that will remain empty, the Green Party said today.
Yesterday the Law and Order Select Committee heard the justice sector's forecast of a prison population of 8,300 by 2016, and that Corrections require a buffer of 1,200 spare beds for contingencies. Upon completion, the new 960 bed Wiri prison in South Auckland will bring the total capacity of New Zealand prisons to 10,800, even after the planned closure of older prisons and units.
"It's just a ridiculous idea to spend $900 million to achieve the result of New Zealand prisons having an oversupply of 1,300 beds," said Green Party corrections and courts spokesperson David Clendon.
"This is a massive over-investment especially when the Government is making funding cuts to education, police salaries, and health.
"Offending rates are declining, the prison population is levelling off, so building more large scale prisons at large scale costs when finances are so tight is the wrong decision.
"The argument that such a big prison is needed in Auckland doesn't stack up.
"The solution we really need is smaller units around the country with a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration.
"The Government needs to reprioritise its spending into facilities and programmes they are designed with reintegration in mind, which facilitate education, job training and the development of support networks that will break the cycle of reoffending."