31 May 2012
The Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections, Ray Smith, has announced final decisions on significant changes to New Zealand’s prison configuration.
New Plymouth and Wellington Prisons will close along with some parts of Arohata, Rolleston, Tongariro/Rangipo and Waikeria Prisons. The Department will also invest in refurbishments at Invercargill and Auckland Prisons.
Proposed changes were announced on 22 March 2012. Following a month of consultation with staff and unions Mr Smith has decided to proceed with the changes that were proposed. During the consultation period Mr Smith and senior managers visited every affected prison and met with staff and unions.
“These changes will improve the overall standard of New Zealand’s prison system, give better working conditions for prison staff and better facilities to work with offenders and reduce reoffending,” Mr Smith said.
Some of these prison buildings are more than 100 years old with the main block at New Plymouth Prison in use during the Land Wars of the 1860s.
“These ageing buildings were designed and built in a different time, they lack the facilities for rehabilitation we need in a modern corrections system and provide an inadequate working environment for prison staff,” said Mr Smith.
“We are putting sixty five million dollars into reducing reoffending by 25% over the next four years and we need modern prisons that will help us achieve our target,” he said.
“Not having expensive maintenance bills for old and inefficient prison buildings means more money can be put to work in new and expanded rehabilitation programmes that will reduce reoffending”.
Most staff affected by the closures will be able to remain at the prison where they are based or transfer to a nearby prison. That is not an option for New Plymouth Prison staff and the Department is working with them individually on options for ensuring ongoing employment. Assistance for relocation and retraining will be available depending on each staff member’s needs.
The land and buildings at New Plymouth and Wellington will be disposed of. The Department is working with Land Information New Zealand and the Historic Places Trust to ensure all treaty settlement and heritage obligations are met.
The Department recognises that these prisons have historical significance and have been a part of their communities for many years. After the prisoners have been moved out there will be open days so the community can farewell the prison and get a feeling for life ‘inside the wire’.
Planning for the refurbishment of Auckland and Invercargill Prisons will now commence.
The prison closures will take place progressively between June 2012 and April 2013 as set out below.
|Prison||Units||Expected closure timeframe|
|Tongariro/Rangipo||Larch Unit||Jun 2012|
|Rolleston||Tawa Unit||Aug 2012|
|Arohata||Probation Unit||Oct 2012|
|Fergusson Unit||Oct 2012|
|Reeves Unit||Oct 2012|
|Wellington||Entire prison||Nov 2012|
|New Plymouth||Entire prison||Mar 2013|
|Waikeria||Hillary Unit||Jun 2012|
|Meads Unit||Jun 2012|
|Kowhai Unit||Apr 2013|
|Central Unit||Apr 2013|
For further information contact the Communications Services Desk:
Phone: (04) 460 3365
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