Recent reports in the media demonstrate a concerning push for increased privatisation of prisons across NSW. According to Minister for Corrections, David Elliot, private and public sectors will bid to operate the John Morony Correctional Centre in an attempt to reform NSW prisons. Mr Elliot said that the shift towards privatisation would improve prison standards as it “accommodates more inmates, operates more efficiently and has a greater focus on rehabilitation.”
However, prison privatisation will invariably lead to a tension between public and private interests. It follows that as the private sector is inherently driven by profits, private takeover could ignore prisoner welfare and undermine standards of care considering high recidivism rates are of little detriment to private corporations.
The ineffective operation of Mt Eden Correctional Centre in New Zealand by private contractor Serco demonstrates the failures of prison privatisation. Deliberate understaffing at Mt Eden to maximise profit can be linked to organised fights and prevalence of contraband inside the centre. In NSW, privatisation of Parklea Correctional Centre has also failed to solve overcrowding, as three inmates are accomodated in two-man cells.
The Public Service Association, the union representing prison offices, said the push for a private prison model was "another short-sighted cash grab" with “no accountability or transparency.”
21st March 2016: NSW prisons risk private sector take over
20th March 2016: PSA denounces privatisation plans as a 'short sighted cash grab' that will open NSW prisons to Fight Clubs
20th March 2016: NSW government announces plans to let private operators tender for jail at Windsor
20th March 2016: Private prison operator Serco meets with Baird government