Prisons do an important job not only in keeping the community safe, but also in making sure that when prisoners are released, they can become a valuable part of society.
The Government has called for tenders for private companies to run the John Moroney Correctional Centre at Windsor on the north-west outskirts of Sydney. Corrective Services can also submit a tender to compete with the private bids. However, private sector bids will be “commercial in confidence” so true comparison with publicly run prisons is not possible. (Note: see Professor Jane Andrews’ report HERE). This at a time when President Obama has announced the closure of private prisons in the US.
There is also a proposal to sell off Long Bay Gaol to property developers, to be replaced elsewhere in outer Sydney with a private mega gaol, housing up to 5000 inmates.
This is all happening at a time when the prison population in NSW is at record high levels.
There are over 30 prisons in NSW, many in regional locations. Private operators of prisons can only make a profit by cutting rehabilitation programs, jobs or slashing pay and conditions. Either outcome will be disastrous for those communities that rely on their local prisons to keep them safe and to keep their local economies moving.
We look to the government to keep us all safe, and prisons play an essential part in this. Prisons in public hands are accountable to us for the job they do. We are safer with offenders securely in custody when they are in prison and rehabilitated when they are released.
Private prisons make a profit when their cells are full. There is absolutely no incentive for them to make sure that offenders won’t re-offend after release. How does this make us safer? How is this responsible use of public money?