NRT: Strapping the chicken on prison privatisation

Written By: - Date published: 11:01 am, May 8th, 2012 - 5 comments
Categories: prisons, privatisation - Tags: ,

Despite keeping prisoners in prison too long and an escape, Serco’s private management of Auckland Remand has been judged a success by the Government because it has met all the standards set for it. Sounds reasonable. Until you look a layer deeper and discover that the standards Serco has to meet are much worse than what Corrections already achieves.

I/S at NoRightTurn explains:

When National started privatizing our prisons, they promised it would lead to better performance. So, you’d think then that new private prisons would be set tough targets which would improve on Corrections’ current performance, right?

Wrong. Someone used FYI – the New Zealand OIA request website – to request Serco’s performance targets for the Auckland Central Remand Prison, and Corrections’ equivalents. They weren’t given the latter, but they can be found in the department’s Annual Report [PDF]. Comparing the two shows that Serco was set softer targets than Corrections currently achieves. A few examples:

Measure Serco target Corrections performance
Percentage of positive random drug tests Less than 12% 7%
Rate of serious assaults Less than 0.9 per 100 prisoners 0.55 prisoner/prisoner + 0.13 prisoner/staff = 0.68
Rate of self-harm or threat to life incidents Less than 0.7 per 100 prisoners 0.26
Number of justified prisoner complaints Less than 9 (2.16 per 100 prisoners) 0.8 per 100 prisoners

To be fair, Serco significantly exceeded some of these targets. At the same time, its hard to see them as anything other than a strapped chicken, designed to be easy to meet so that the privatisation can be called a “success” (and Serco get their bonus) regardless of the outcome.


Hmm. It’s almost like the government wanted to be able to say private prisons are working no matter what.

5 comments on “NRT: Strapping the chicken on prison privatisation”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    A private built and financed prison in Victoria which is under construction looks like it will need ‘rescuing’ by the state government before its completed as cost overruns bite.

    So even when they say it will ‘cost less’ than a jail built by the government that wont be true either.

  2. Dr Terry 2

    Punishment is punishment, it serves to rehabilitate no-one, in any setting. This country uses punitive approaches all over the place and therefore ends up redeeming nobody at all. Punishment, in and of itself, is no “cure-all”.

    • bbfloyd 2.1

      It’s more like another symptom of the disease we need to find a cure for… that is getting away on us…

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    If the Crown exercises its unique coercive powers to remove a citizen’s freedoms by imprisoning them, the Crown must bear all responsibilities for conducting that incarceration without delegating those duties off elsewhere.

    • Vicky32 3.1

      If the Crown exercises its unique coercive powers to remove a citizen’s freedoms by imprisoning them, the Crown must bear all responsibilities for conducting that incarceration without delegating those duties off elsewhere.

      Seconded! 🙂

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