17 Aug 2013

Prison TV scheme will save taxpayers - Tolley

12:25 am on 17 August 2013

The Corrections Minister says a new scheme to charge prisoners to watch television will save taxpayers more than $400,000 a year

The Government announced on Thursday that prisoners will have their personal televisions removed to prevent them from storing or smuggling contraband inside them and instead will be able to rent clear, plastic-cased televisions for $2 per week.

Anne Tolley says the plan will save corrections' officers from having to secure, vet and transport offenders' personal TV sets.

"If prisoners weren't trying to smuggle in contraband, we wouldn't have to do any of this. But unfortunately, they do, and it's very expensive and very time-consuming."

Mrs Tolley says it will cost about $2 million to buy the custom TVs - Corrections expects to make that back within three years.

The Green Party, meanwhile, says charging prisoners to watch television is going to create tension and conflict.

Spokesperson David Clendon says some prisoners won't be able to afford the cost, which could represent up to 10 hours of work time and the plan could create more problems than it solves.

The scheme will start at Christchurch Men's Prison in November and will be introduced to other prisons the following year.