Monday, May 07, 2012

Strapping the chicken on prison privatisation

When National started privatizing our prisons, they promised it would lead to better performance. So, you'd think then that new private prisons would be set tough targets which would improve on Corrections' current performance, right?

Wrong. Someone used FYI - the New Zealand OIA request website - to request Serco's performance targets for the Auckland Central Remand Prison, and Corrections' equivalents. They weren't given the latter, but they can be found in the department's Annual Report [PDF]. Comparing the two shows that Serco was set softer targets than Corrections currently achieves. A few examples:

MeasureSerco targetCorrections performance
Percentage of positive random drug testsLess than 12%7%
Rate of serious assaultsLess than 0.9 per 100 prisoners0.55 prisoner/prisoner + 0.13 prisoner/staff = 0.68
Rate of self-harm or threat to life incidentsLess than 0.7 per 100 prisoners0.26
Number of justified prisoner complaintsLess than 9 (2.16 per 100 prisoners)0.8 per 100 prisoners

To be fair, Serco significantly exceeded some of these targets. At the same time, its hard to see them as anything other than a strapped chicken, designed to be easy to meet so that the privatisation can be called a "success" (and Serco get their bonus) regardless of the outcome.