Kiwi inmates told to build their own jail cells

June 21st, 2009 - 1:20 pm ICT by ANI  

John Key Wellington, June 21 (ANI): In a bid to deal with a “dangerously high” prison population, inmates in New Zealand could be forced to build their own jail cells from shipping containers.

Prime Minister John Key’s government has asked Corrections, a state sector organisation of New Zealand, to produce options to cope with the burgeoning prison muster, which has increased by 700 so far this year, reports The Sunday Star Times.

Corrections’ core responsibility is the management of the New Zealand corrections system. Its Minister, Judith Collins, has said by the new year the issue of housing prisoners was expected to reach crisis point. Double-bunking the standard practice of putting two prisoners into a single cell was not sustainable and the economic downturn meant the government could not afford to build new prisons in the short term.

Using prisoners to build their own cells was “a great idea” and “a lot better than being locked up all day in a cell”, Collins said.

“We are getting dangerously high in our capacity. We will not have the capacity by the beginning of next year to house all the prisoners that we will have,” she said.

As far as the proposal for shipping-container cells is concerned, Corrections is yet to respond to Collins, which she said would “be spartan but humane and clean. We are looking at whether we could make good use out of prisoner work teams to help build these, and obviously things like landscaping.

“We’re quite keen to have prisoners learning useful construction skills and helping to build their own environment. Prisoners need to learn construction skills so they can earn their keep and, frankly, it’s a lot better than being locked up all day in a cell.” (ANI)

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