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Building new prisons costly – cheaper options needed: [New Zealand] PM

Jun 24, 2009

From the article in  Building new prisons is outrageously expensive and alternatives such as housing prisoners in converted shipping containers have to be considered, Prime Minister John Key said today.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins has floated the idea of prisoners building their own cells from shipping containers.

Opponents say the proposal is inhumane.

Mr Key said it was only one idea to get around a serious problem due to a lack of prison space.

"It's one of a number (of options)... and I can't tell you if it is likely to take place."

The prison population is continuing to swell, with 700 added to the muster this year, and tougher sentencing is worsening the problem. Measures such as double-bunking are being implemented.

Ms Collins has asked the Corrections Department to consider the proposal, which she described as "a great idea" and "a lot better than being locked up all day in a cell".

The container cells would "be spartan but humane and clean" and prisoners could help build them....

The cost of building accommodation to the standard of the new Spring Hill prison in Meremere, south of Auckland, works out at about $643,000 per bed. Using shipping containers, the cost is an estimated $380,000 per bed.

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