UPDATE: Of course another SERCO prison is abusing prisoners – here’s the inside word on what is happening



No one can really be surprised can they?

Another Serco prison under fire
Labour’s Kelvin Davis said the wife of an inmate at the Auckland South Corrections Facility at Wiri had told him serious beatings at the men’s prison were going unreported, and that prisoners were being locked-down almost all day long.

The prison is the country’s largest public-private partnership and opened in May.
But Mr Davis said an inmate had complained it was well on its way to becoming like

Mt Eden Prison – which, until recently, was also run by Serco.

He said the new allegations showed privatising prisons was a complete failure.
The complaints are detailed in an email from the inmate’s wife to the MP:

…in the public prison system it’s 1 guard per 15 prisoners, in SERCO it’s 1 guard per 60. The low prisoner to guard ratio is how SERCO make a profit and prisoner safety is the least of their concerns.

This is just another failed right wing experiment in privatising public services and because ACC is a 30% shareholder in the private Wiri Prison that means they are dependent on the revenue stream meaning the profit motive warps social outcomes away from rehabilitation towards incarceration.

Here is the inside word as to what is happening from Arthur Taylor, our blogger inside prison…

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…the reality is that the media have used sensationalist crime laden headlines for ratings purpose for such a long time (despite crime rates dropping) that the electorate are ripe for manipulation when it comes to get tough on criminals crap. That’s why the Sensible Sentencing Trust has so much power, the anger whipped up at crime robs us of real solutions towards rehabilitation, the hate warps social policy and hardens our hearts.

Look at empty response to children being locked up in prisons because CYFS don’t have the resources…

Holding girl in police cell for days unacceptable – Labour
Bad weather was part of an “exceptional combination of circumstances” that led to a teenager being held in police cells for four days because Child, Youth and Family could not find a bed for her, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says.

Labour has said what happened to the West Auckland teenaged girl was extraordinary and unacceptable.

The teenager was “terrified” listening to other prisoners scream through the night, and tried not to eat or drink so she did not have to use the toilet in front of anyone.

…look at the consequences of 3 strike law as we start to jail our first prisoners for life which means these damaged human beings become people with nothing to lose inside prison…

Two murderers face becoming NZ’s first criminals jailed for life without parole
Two murderers face becoming New Zealand’s first criminals jailed for the rest of their lives after an historic appeal of the three strikes law.

The lawyers of Shane Pierre Harrison and Justin Vance Turner had successfully argued such a tough sentence was unfair in the men’s cases, even though criminals with first strike convictions who later committed murders could be jailed for life without parole.

However, the Crown has appealed their sentences, claiming the High Court judges were wrong to fail to jail the two killers for life without parole.

..look at the arrogant blind faith belief that our unjust justice system is pure by denying wrongful convictions…

Commission to investigate miscarriages of justice backed by Labour
At least 20 people are behind bars after being wrongfully convicted of serious crimes and an independent body is needed to investigate such cases, politicians have been told.

A Criminal Cases Review Commission is operating in the United Kingdom and the establishment of one here has Labour’s support.

However, National has rejected the idea as unnecessary, and in the absence of a commission volunteers have started the NZ Public Interest Project (NZPIP).

…these abuses of justice occur because the NZ public want them to occur. We don’t care about prisoner rights, look at the glee many NZers felt when the National Party removed prisoner rights to vote. We are a nation who can’t have a mature discussion about punishment because most of those in jail are Maori and the garden variety bigotry that infects most parts of NZ society secretly believe they deserve it. Far easier to ignore the inequality of NZ society and how that drives crime or a biased judicial system that imprisons Maori more harshly than non Maori, those questions would make us uncomfortable around the BBQ and our laid back anti-intellectualism prefers to not have to think about that.

We are a country with all the political maturity of a can of coke.

It’s not just National who play to this redneck ignorance, Labour has played the same tune. After it was revealed that prisoners were tortured in NZ, the courts forced those prisoners who were tortured to be compensated. The idea that criminals should be compensated for being tortured in state care outraged the middle and Labour obliged by passing legislation that took the compensation off the prisoners and made it available for the victims of the crimes…

Victims offered a slice of criminals’ jail payouts
In 2004, he and four fellow criminals successfully sued the Corrections Department for breaching their human rights for their severe treatment in a behaviour management programme at Auckland’s Paremoremo Prison between 1998 and 2004.

But the Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims Act was introduced in 2005, which allowed victims to claim against compensation paid to prisoners for wrongs suffered while incarcerated.

As a result, the five criminals’ total of $106,000 compensation was paid into the victims’ claims trust account in 2007.

Last month, public notices were published to notify victims they had until next Februaryto lodge claims with the Victims’ Special Claims Tribunal for damages from physical injuries, emotional harm and property losses because of four of the men’s offending.

…note the outrage isn’t that prisoners were tortured in State Care – the outrage was that those tortured prisoners get compensation. That case has eerie comparisons to the current debate over CYFS care where the issue isn’t about the children who have been sexually abused and beaten in state care, but sterilising the poor who breed the children.

We allow this to happen because the abuse of justice is aimed at people we don’t like or don’t know or don’t have any connection with. It is of course human nature to want to take vengeance on anyone who harms our kin or loved ones and seeing innocent people hurt gets us angry, but that anger doesn’t lead to good social policy when it is whipped up by a media who want ratings and politicians who want easy votes.

SERCO are the product of this madness and we have no one else to blame but ourselves.


UPDATE: And now we have a rape being reported inside the prison because staff aren’t segregating properly and the rush is to double bunk .


  1. It is all the result of semi fascist forms of rule and law enforcement, of social Darwinism, where people get stirred up one against each other, so they compete with and fight each other, all for the purpose of serving ruthless capitalism, assisted by the state.

    The MSM compete and stir up emotions with selective reporting, void of much of factual information, containing nothing comprehensive. Big, fat headlines, or cutting comments on radio and TV, meant to get the adrenalin working. People adapt, react as expected, while being manipulated. Most now only value other humans by asking and judging, is that person on my side, or is that person of “use” to me? If the answer seems no, they sharpen their “horns” and go on the attack.

    This society has changed dramatically over the last 7 to 8 years, and people have changed with that.

    Yes, a prisoner, or a beneficiary, gets virtually NO sympathy, even if justified, the labels dished out do stick, the prejudice, and it shows.

    Bad, bad and more bad, that is the reputation they generally have in the eyes of the public. Divide and rule is sadly working, when people do not take the time to reassess themselves and their views, and rethink the whole direction of where things are heading.

    The environment we have actually breeds hatred and crime, and it works like a self fulfilling prophecy, so the fascist minds at the top will soon find more reasons to “crack down” even more, making life for many yet worse.

    Having visited an old mate, who ended up on the wrong side of the law some time back, I saw how horrible that Auckland Remand Prison really is. It is a shockingly cold, inhospitable place, and I would not wish anyone to end up in there, or in any of the other “institutions”.

  2. Mismanagement of Wiri Prison by Serco? Predictable.

    The question I have in my mind is how much longer National will pursue privatisation of state services such as prisons?

    Because here’s the thing; there’s an old saying that neo-liberalism promotes privatisation of profit, and socialisation of losses.

    In this case, Serco gains profits (albeit marginally reduced), whilst National cops the flak for mismanagement.

    If National ministers are “relaxed” about this state of affairs, they truly are bonkers.

  3. I’ve been doing volunteer support since the late ’90’s. I haven’t accessed any SERCO-run facilities. Nevertheless I have a wealth of material on the main three I am familiar with and have supported over 50 men. Gang culture permeates strongly and there is a huge gulf where adequate mental health care should be. The stereotype is an illusion as most inmates are not career criminals, but have made a poor decision that many of us have probably come closer to than we care to acknowledge (never driven over the limit ever?). There already exists a system that takes rehabitable men and breaks them down. It’s not easy watching a man crumble unnecessarily and it doesn’t help anyone at the inevitable release, least of all the public themselves. These developments re SERCO are very concerning to me for no other reason than it is the NZ public who will feel the results, not just the inmates. While I require access I’m limited in being detailed, but in collaboration with some other fine people, the dossier will get oxygen one day soon.

  4. I think you’re right on this one. A large proportion of Kiwis do want prisoners to suffer, and many of them support Labour. We reap what we sow and we are sowing rotten seeds.

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