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Admitting failure on private prisons

Written By: - Date published: 8:45 am, July 25th, 2015 - 32 comments
Categories: accountability, prisons, Privatisation - Tags: , , ,

The Nats have been forced to call in the good old-fashioned state to clear up Serco’s mess:

Corrections ‘stepping in’ over Serco debacle

The Corrections Department has confirmed plans to take over Serco’s management of Mt Eden Correctional Facility.

Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said this afternoon that a management team would take over the day to day running of the prison from Monday “for the immediate future”.

Serco’s staff would remain on site, but a Corrections Department Prison Director and their team would oversee the prison. …

The government is still talking about salvaging the contract in the longer term. But given the headlines on fight clubs, death, and now this – Exclusive: Prison counsellor hears stories of gang rape in Mt Eden – I think that they would be better off just admitting the failure of the private prisons model.


According to Twitter:

32 comments on “Admitting failure on private prisons”

  1. AB 1

    “All the stats prior to this had Serco top rated. Were the prior stats false?”

    In private companies, performance numbers are routinely ‘massaged’, ‘gamed’ and lied about.
    Also – the performance measures are usually a crock – gross over-simplifications or fatally flawed by only measuring the things that can be measured and omitting those that can’t. Have seen it for 25 years – the extension of statistical management via KPIs, 6-sigma etc. beyond pure manufacturing into service organisations is another neoliberal delusion.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      And the culture of bureaucratic managerialism where middle level managers sit behind desks looking at graphs and metrics emailed to them as if they are real – is partly to blame.

      The Government clearly does not have any ruthlessly hawkish auditors with powers or skills to go through all areas of a facility, whenever, wherever, with no warning, and to talk to anyone that they wish to.

      • dukeofurl 1.1.1

        Unless you can verify the numbers they will be complete lies.
        Thats why they were avoiding sending prisoners to hospital and if thats the only option send them to a public prison pronto.

        Thats how the private hospitals work too, any patient that has complications is immediately sent for better care to a public hospital ( which covers the cost no questions asked).

        This was creeping in charter schools, use the local state schools for ‘specialist subjects’ they couldn’t bother to teach or it wasn’t in their financial interest to do so.
        That was as well as sending their ‘untrained teachers’ to state schools if they were doing teacher training so they could be ‘supervised by trained teachers’ as required by tertiary institution. Once that short period was over it was back to their charter school classroom for whatever.

  2. Save NZ 2

    The question is how much is this costing the taxpayers and how much has Serco already been paid?

  3. Save NZ 3

    And is Serco going to pay compensation to Nick Evans family if it is found that Serco failed to protect him from violence in the prison where he was potentially murdered and then shipped off to a public prison instead of medical treatment so that it could all be covered up?

    • dukeofurl 3.1

      ACC means no compensation for death or injury, no matter the circumstances.

      Thats why its called no fault, however this is to everyone’s advantage as the right to sue meant big lawyers bills first or lawyers taking a big share of payout

    • NZJester 3.2

      I can see National apologising for his death and making sure there is some form of compensation payment made.
      HIs family are not just the average NZ family but one with strong National party ties.

  4. CC 4

    Waiting to see who the Police charge under S151 – Crimes Act i relation to the death of Nick Evans.

  5. Tautoko Mangō Mata 5

    Rangi Kemara, one of the “Urewera Four” at the end of his excellent post on the whole prison system states:

    “A note on Private Prisons

    My one issue with Serco is that it is profiteering from misery. This in my view is almost as morally corrupt as purposeful overcrowding by government as a means of cost saving.”
    http://www.putatara.net/2015/07/serco-debate/

    Rangi’s Blog is worth reading because we will need to address the wider issues which will still be there after Serco has been removed.

    1. Private prisons: profit from prisons
    2. Overcrowding, double bunking (thanks Judith Collins) Inadequate facilities, long lockdowns
    3. Rehabilitation opportunities
    4. Alternatives to prison-drug & alcohol and mental health

    and pre-emptive early intervention
    5. investing money on families and education,. teacher aides, mentors
    6. Anger management and countrywide antisexual violence education programmes running for young people in schools to enable young people to learn tools of handling conflict, respect for one another.
    7. Reintroduction of adult education and night school classes which enable new skills to be learnt, new social relationships to be formed.

    If we don’t spend money earlier making lives better, then we end up spending money later making lives more miserable.

    • Ad 5.1

      Profiteering from prisoners is not unique to the private operators.

      For many years Corrections enabled prisons to bid for shoe manufacturing, totally undercutting the 3 main local manufacturers.

      They also still do huge plant nursery contracting, amongst other things.

      • dukeofurl 5.1.1

        Is it profiteering when the money is returned to public sector prisons ?

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1

          Is it profiteering when Cullen lets the energy SOEs charge up power consumers big in order to fill up the Treasury?

          • cricklewood 5.1.1.1.1

            Yep especially when it then makes them an attractive asset ripe for the picking…
            Imagine the effect near cost power would have on the economy not to mention the pressure off the health system…

          • Tricledrown 5.1.1.1.2

            A big drought and rapid expansion of economy in the early 2000s forced power prices up but when production returned prices didn’t fall.

      • cricklewood 5.1.2

        Although in terms of plant nurseries even corrections are unable to compete with massive automated operations that have reduced staffing requirements by 90%…

        Also it is important to provide meaningful work… idle hands etc…

  6. quokka 6

    SERCO had an abysmal record of managing Australian migrant detention centers
    long before they were given the Mt. Eden contract.

  7. Ben 7

    And of course there is no fighting, corruption, drugs, phones and general anti-social behaviour in govt. run prisons. Centres of purity and and moral perfection they are.

    The govt. has come out of this looking good. A problem(s) was identified, the Minister waited for more information and then acted in a strong manner. Although Labour had been saving this scandal for a rainy day (no rush to help those prisioners), and it certainly diverted attention from the Chinese housing debacle, sorting out Serco is a win for the Nats and will be a confidence boost for Sam Lotu-Iiga.

    • Gangnam Style 7.1

      the minister did not act at all, the corrections boss stepped in, perception is the govt is looking very week on this, good try tho.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      And of course there is no fighting, corruption, drugs, phones and general anti-social behaviour in govt. run prisons. Centres of purity and and moral perfection they are.

      Are you really this much of an arsehole, Ben? Or do you think you are making a clever, incisive point here?

      Against much sound advice, National subcontracted out a core responsibility of the Crown to a feckless, incompetent for-profit company with an abysmal operational record. Now its gone tits up and the Crown is incurring extra costs not to mention the human damage done.

      If you have anything meaningful or thoughtful to say about this, go ahead. Otherwise, its better to just look like a fuckwit rather than prove it to everyone around.

      • Ben 7.2.1

        Overreact much? Not wintering that well down there I see.

        • The Other Mike 7.2.1.1

          “The govt. has come out of this looking good. A problem(s) was identified, the Minister waited for more information and then acted in a strong manner”

          What planet you on Ben? Lotu-Liga knew of these problems in MAY – and did, well, nothing. They also know years ago of the Scandinavian system which has entirely different and better outcomes for prisoners. Again, do nothing. Sums them up really.

          If you think with this scandal, $26M flag, TPPA, human rights abuse(s), hair-pulling, 200,000 odd hungry kids etc etc etc, this is a government that looks good – I’d like a smoke of whatever you’re on!

        • Mark 7.2.1.2

          No I think fuckwit sums it pretty accurately actually

    • MikeG 7.3

      Ben – you forgot that the issue was raised by Davis at Select Committee and Sam “forgot” that, and subsequently accused Davis of “politicising” the issue. Disgraceful.

      The system failed – it required an opposition MP to highlight the issue, rather than the supposed checks and balances in the system.

      Well done Kelvin Davis.

  8. RedBaronCV 8

    Is the government looking good on this really?
    Looks like the civ’s have stepped up to the plate and told the minister what is going to be happening to fix this.

    And all this has happened so swiftly and smoothly from the departmental side that it looks like they have had this plan in place and ready to go for a while now- knowing it was going to be needed.

    Stuff is saying that the civil servants have invoked the step in clause so can they also cancel without ministerial say so?
    “Smith said he was invoking the “step-in” clause in the contract with Serco.”

    And did the civil service ever want to sign the contract in the first place or did they advise against it?
    And as for the avoidance side wasn’t this NActs stupid idea in the first place?

    “Lotu-Iiga supported Smith’s decision to take over the running of the facility for the immediate future.”

  9. http://willnewzealandberight.com/2015/07/25/serco-not-fit-to-hold-government-contracts/

    Google Serco scandals. They got into trouble with the British Government for their management of a centre for deportees. They also got tainted by fraudulent activity.

    Not ideal credentials for a security firm.

  10. Policy Parrot 10

    Private Prisons, Charter Schools, Public-Private Partnerships.

    These types of organisations purely exist as a legalised method of channelling taxpayer funds into private hands, i.e. as in corruption. Any organisation that endorses these structures is in effect endorsing corrupt practice.

    There is typically some fig-leaf commitment to the actual project, but the focus is primarily on making money, either by increasing charges or cutting costs.

    And the right has the nerve to say that private ownership is superior to public? At least in theory, public ownership is accountable to voters. Private ownership is accountable to shareholders and big stakeholders, not voters.

  11. mick 11

    this country is in the grip of people who believe in a philosophy that the state can do no right but they all want to take over their assets. the sooner the government is returned to people who know how to do the decent thing the better. otherwise this madness will continue.
    philosophy is no substitute for reality.

  12. philj 12

    Those directly responsible should be given a fair trial and locked up. Not in a Serco correctional facility, to be fair.

  13. NZJester 13

    You do have to wonder if the family of the Prisoner who died did not have such strong National ties if National would have stepped in like they did?

  14. Detrie 14

    These problems are hardly new. Here’s a recent documentary on what’s occurring in the UK prison system… It’s a pity we can’t learn from others mistakes…

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