Televisions and phones for prisoners at NZ private prison 'trying new things'

Phones and televisions in every cell, that's the reality for prisoners in New Zealand's first private jail.

Even the furnishings have been designed with an inmate’s rehabilitation in mind. Source: 1 NEWS

Some of the 960 high to low risk prisoners will enjoy double bunked cells, a phone and television at the South Auckland Corrections Facility, New Zealand's first private prison.

Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Liga said the prison was about transforming the lives of the prisoners so they return to communities with fewer victims in the future.

Howard League for Penal Reform CEO Mike Williams said the strategy has been implemented in Britain for many years.

"It certainly helps rehabilitation and reoffending by keeping them in contact with family and friends overseas."

Department of Corrections Ray Smith said: "At the end of the day it's a prison ... what's a bit different here is they are trying some new things."

He said inmates will be put to work and have a chance to complete a CV.

Corrections workers are called reintegration officers at the Serco run prison, the company which currently operates Mt Eden Prison, and was awarded the $840 million contract to run the prison for the next 25 years.

Mr Lotu-Liga said there are strict performance criteria for the private prison, "clearly described in our contract".

"We are confident they are going to meet the terms of the agreement," he said of the prison which opens in 10 days.