meshDETECT, Secure Prison Cell Phone Solutions ™
meshDETECT, Secure Prison Cell Phone Solutions ™

Fears Over Prisoners’ Phone Access

An article discussing a New Zealand prison’s plans to install landlines in each prisoner’s cell, similar to what has been done in two British prisons. The reason it is being considered is because, according to the article, “Evidence shows that prisoners are less likely to re-offend if they keep in touch with their families and have good family support when they are released.” Wouldn’t a secure prison cell phone service like meshDETECT be a simpler and more cost effective way to give the prisoners access to telephone services in their cells?

Corrections Minister Judith Collins says she would have concerns about prisoners talking to their criminal mates if there were landline phones in prison cells.

Landlines are installed in the cells of two private prisons in Britain operated by British company Serco, which will run the controversial new Mt Eden Corrections Facility in Auckland from August 1.

The Mt Eden facility has phones in communal areas, but there are currently no plans for them to be installed in cells.

Ms Collins today said she would have a few issues with phones in every cell.

”The first would be that they obviously wouldn’t want to be having prisoners talking to criminal mates every night. That wouldn’t be acceptable and quite clearly any phone calls on landlines would have to monitored, and scrupulously so, as they are now.

”I’d want to also be reassured that this would assist rehabilitations.”

Ms Collins said prisoners already had access to landline phones, as required by the UN treaties New Zealand has signed.

Asked if she would say no to phones in prison cells, Ms Collins said she would want any phone lines to be scrupulously monitored.

”Public safety has to come first … I’d expect to see some very compelling evidence that it assisted rehabilitations before I’d even think about it,” she said.

Serco spokesman Paul Shaw said the communal phones at Mt Eden prison could be accessed throughout the hours prisoners were unlocked – when they were not in their cells, or in work or training. Prisoners paid for calls by purchasing phonecards.

”The phones use a system which allows prisoners to ring certain pre-approved numbers, and calls can be monitored for security purposes,” he said.

Serco believed it was important for prisoners to maintain contact with their families, he said.

”Evidence shows that prisoners are less likely to re-offend if they keep in touch with their families and have good family support when they are released.”

Having landlines in communal areas was consistent with other New Zealand prisons and the majority of prisons Serco operated across the world, including two in Australia.

The Mt Eden prison is the first since 2005 to be managed by a private sector contractor.

Opposition parties have consistently condemned the move and concerns have been raised about problems at overseas prisons run by Serco.

International reports have linked some Serco prisons with violence, overcrowding and poor health care.