Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another failure of private prisons

Last month, we learned that Serco was still failing to meet performance targets for its Mt Eden Corrections Facility. One of those targets is around the number of wrongful detentions and releases, where Serco wrongfully imprisoned 4 people in Q2 and 3 2012, and wrongfully released 5. Sadly, Corrections doesn't publish statistics on its own rate of wrongful release or imprisonment, but someone used FYI, the public OIA request site, to ask for some. And the result shows that yet again, Serco is performing worse than government-run prisons in this crucial area.

According to Corrections, between August 2011 and February 2012 they wrongfully detained six prisoners, and wrongfully released five, giving rates of 0.05% and 0.04% respectively. Serco's results over that same period (Q2 YTD on the table here [PDF]) were one and two prisoners. Dividing that by MECF's capacity of 966 prisoners gives minimum wrongful detention and release rates of 0.1% and 0.2% respectively - two to five times Corrections' results. And Serco has got worse at this since they started, with 3 wrongful detentions and 3 wrongful releases in the next assessment period.

The upshot: Serco are significantly worse than the government at something as basic and fundamental as keeping people in jail for the proper length of time. And we're paying them a premium for this?