60-bed container unit for prison

A 60-bed container unit is to be established at Rimutaka Prison as the Corrections Department seeks ways to house a burgeoning prison population.

The Government previously announced it would use containers as cells to boost capacity and Corrections Minister Judith Collins said today the unit would help the department evaluate whether they can be used in other prisons.

"This project is the first of its kind at a New Zealand prison and we hope it will point the way to how we can build extra prison capacity faster and much cheaper than in the past," she said.

"Corrections is forecast to run out of baseline beds early next year. We have to take immediate action to ensure that prisoners are securely locked away and the public is kept safe."

A tender process had started and cells would be used from March.

Each bed would cost between $53,000 and $63,000 which Ms Collins said was far cheaper than for a new prison.

While some of the components of the initial cells will come from overseas, they will be extensively fitted out in New Zealand.

"It is my hope that in future most of the construction of container cells will be undertaken in New Zealand."

Prisoners would not be involved in construction but may be in future.

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