Greens warn of dangers from private prisons

The rape and subsequent suicide of a woman at United States private prison was in Parliament today used as a warning about what could happen here.

The US prison was owned by a company that has operated in New Zealand, Green MP Metiria Turei told Parliament.

Ms Turei related the story of LeTisha Tapia, a 23-year-old imprisoned at a GEO Group-owned facility in Texas.

Ms Tapia told family she was put in a cell block with male inmates and was raped and beaten.

After her suicide, the family settled a lawsuit in 2007.

The GEO Group runs "correctional facilities" in Canada, Britain and South Africa.

It ran Auckland Central Remand Prison for five years until Labour won the 1999 election and refused to renew its contract.

Prime Minister John Key on Monday said the company had done a good job running the prison and it was a "great example of a success story".

Ms Turei said the GEO Group in the United States made $US61 million ($NZ124 million) last year - paid by the taxpayer.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins said she was unaware of the Texas case.

She said in New Zealand, Corrections did not have a "perfect record in the publicly managed prisons in New Zealand".

Answering questions from the Maori Party, Ms Collins said private management would open up opportunities for Maori to get involved in running prisons to produce better results for Maori, who are over-represented in imprisonment statistics.

The Government was looking at allowing private management of prisons not for the sector to build new prisons.

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