Govt wants reoffending cut by a quarter next year as soaring prison population drives $1b spend on more jail beds

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1 NEWS

The Government aims to see reoffending reduced by a quarter by next year, with repeated crime just one problem driving a planned $1 billion spend on 1800 extra prison beds across the country.

Most beds will be at a planned new facility at Waikeria Prison which will have room for 1500 inmates and is expected to open in four years under a public-private partnership.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins says bail laws have been tightened, so inmates no longer get bail when they are meth cooks or violent offenders.
Source: 1 NEWS

A new block will be built at Auckland's troubled Mt Eden Correctional Facility to provide 245 more beds for the growing prison population.

A total of 341 new spaces will come through double bunking, including 80 extra beds at Ngawha Prison in Northland and converting current facilities to make more room.

It's thought around 700 more prison staff will be needed, even though about 200 lost their jobs in the last year.

And there's another problem for Corrections, in reoffending.

The Government's target is to see reoffending reduced by 25 per cent by next year.

Currently Corrections has only reduced it by seven per cent.

"Actually, we're the first government who's ever set targets," said Corrections MInister Judith Collins. 

She had a message for offenders: "Don't think you're going to get a get out of jail free card because we won't have enough beds. We have enough beds."

Prison reformers say jails need a different emphasis.  

"I think they've got to focus on skills training in jails, particularly in literacy. Half of our prisoners can't read and write and that means they go out and offend," said Mike Williams of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

It all adds up to a hefty bill for New Zealand taxpayers.

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