Mount Eden Prisons

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The old Mt Eden prison exterior.
Exterior view of the old prison.

Mount Eden Prisons consists of two separate facilities in the Auckland, New Zealand suburb of Mount Eden—the Mount Eden Prison and the Mount Eden Corrections Facility.

The historic prison has housed prisoners since 1888 and its design and functionality are outdated and the deteriorating condition of the buildings makes it difficult to keep prisoners securely and humanely contained. In 2008 a decision was made to redevelop the site and create a single integrated prison called the Mount Eden Corrections Facility. The Department of Corrections says that when the new facility is fully operational, the historic prison will be emptied and "mothballed" in case extra prison capacity is required in future.[1]

History[edit]

The original Mount Eden prison was a military stockade built in 1856. It became the Mount Eden's main prison when the old city gaol on the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets was demolished in 1865. The stone wall and the foundations were completed in 1872, the building proper was commenced in 1882 and finished in 1917.

Intended to house 220 prisoners, it was designed by Pierre Finch Martineau Burrows and resembles Dartmoor Prison in England. Its design was based on prevailing thinking at the time that such facilities should be unpleasant places to be dreaded[2] and consisted of a radial design with wings radiating from the centre like the spokes of a wheel. This allowed for control from the centre and "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind",[3] an application of the panopticon prison design theories of Jeremy Bentham.

The prison has a colourful history. Prisoners were executed there and it was the site of New Zealand's last execution, in 1957 when Walter James Bolton was hanged for poisoning his wife Beatrice.[4] There were few escapes but a song was written about one famous escaper, George Wilder. In 1963, he escaped and was free for 172 days, during which time he travelled 2,610 kilometres (1,620 mi) and committed 40 crimes. Pat Boone's song 'Speedy Gonzales' was rewritten by the Howard Morrison Quartet and became "George The Wilder Colonial Boy".[5]

There was a major riot on 20 and 21 July 1965. Prisoners rioted for 33 hours after a prison guard caught two prisoners trying to escape. Chaos ensued as prisoners burnt much of the prison, including the prison records[6] The riot was a sensational event for the pupils and staff of the two neighbouring boys' secondary schools, Auckland Grammar School and St Peter's College.[7][8][9] The old prison has been given a "Category I" classification by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Privatisation[edit]

In July 2000, the prison was transferred to the control of Australasian Correctional Management Limited (later Global Expertise in Outsourcing NZ Ltd) and became New Zealand's first privately run prison. It was renamed the Auckland Central Remand Prison. However, the Labour Party was opposed to the privatisation of prisons, and in July 2005 put the prison back under the control of the Department of Corrections.[10]

The Prisons have been the site of several protests. Pictured is a protest which took place in October 2007 over recent police raids.

In June 2007 it was announced that a new six-storey prison building and a four-storey accommodation block would be built on the southern side of the building by 2011, adding 450 beds. The old prison would be converted to administrative space, in accordance with its heritage classification.[4]

The redevelopment included a secure gatehouse, a visitor centre and a multilevel carpark added to the structure. Tunnels link the different sections. The barbed wire around the complex disappeared and was replaced by high and secure walls.[4] There was some criticism of the proposed height of the new prison building, which at up to 30 metres (98 ft) is visible from the nearby motorway viaduct and towers over the surrounding area, which has a 15-metre (49 ft) building height limit. Vocal opponents included the former Mayor of Auckland, John Banks.[11]

In May 2010, the National-led government decided that contract management would again be implemented at Auckland Central Remand Prison. The contract was awarded to Serco, a British company that runs prisons in several different countries.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mount Eden Corrections Facility Redevelopment, Corrections Department Factsheet
  2. ^ History of Mt Eden, Corrections Department website.
  3. ^ Bentham, Jeremy. Panopticon (Preface). In Miran Bozovic (ed.), The Panopticon Writings, London: Verso, 1995, 29-95.
  4. ^ a b c Binning, Elizabeth (15 June 2007). "Six-storey jail for Mt Eden". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  5. ^ The Howard Morrison Quartet (from the 'folksong.org.nz' website. Retrieved 2007-10-20.)
  6. ^ Auckland City Libraries, Heritage Image 7-A2108 (retrieved 9 June 2011) (Photograph taken 2 September 1965 - unknown photographer) Mt Prison Prison some two months after the riot and fire - the damage to the buildings is very evident.
  7. ^ The Auckland Prison Riot, 1965 (from the Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2007-11-10.)
  8. ^ Go-ahead for new Mt Eden jail - The New Zealand Herald, Friday 15 June 2007, Section A, page 2.
  9. ^ Fifty Years at Grammar or Tales Out Of School - Nicholls, C. N. ("Streak"), ESA Books, 1987, Page 218
  10. ^ Privately-run prisons not an option, says Swain New Zealand Herald, 13 July 2005.
  11. ^ Orsman, Bernard (4 December 2007). "Mayor incensed at high-rise jail plan". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  12. ^ Controversial private prison opens, New Zealand Herald, 30 March 2011.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°52′02″S 174°46′01″E / 36.8671543°S 174.7669029°E / -36.8671543; 174.7669029