Prisoner double-bunking: Perceptions and impacts (2012)

Throughout the last decade the Department of Corrections was faced with the need to accommodate significant increases in the number of prisoners, and to do so cost-effectively.  Amongst a number of strategies in response, extending the level of double bunking was pursued over a period spanning 2009-2011.

This report outlines the findings of two separate phases of research exploring double bunking in New Zealand prisons.  Of particular interest in the first phase was the perceptions of double bunking held by prisoners who had been housed in this manner, and staff who had worked in double bunked units.  The objective of this research was to identify issues which should be addressed before double bunking was further extended.  The research involved a series of interviews with prison managers, staff and prisoners, in twelve prison units. 

The second phase occurred during the period over which the level of double bunking was expanded.  This examined rates of incidents (such as prisoner assaults and incidents of disorder) for the purpose of determining whether, as double bunking expanded, the rates at which such events occurred were increasing.  A core objective of this phase was to clarify the extent to which double bunking, on the scale planned, remained consistent with the goals of safe, secure and humane containment of prisoners.