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October 8, 2018 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Prison Laundry: Spin Cycle Over

Victoria University has stated that they have stopped contracting Arohata Prison’s laundry services. The Department of Corrections have also confirmed that the practice has ceased, although they could not confirm the date.
When asked why the University switched services, Mark Loveard, the University’s Chief Operating Officer, said that “We sought tenders for the laundry service, which resulted in us contracting with a different provider”.
A shirt costs 90 cents to wash with the Department of Correction’s services. A coat or a blanket costs $1.40. In comparison, at local dry cleaner, a shirt costs $6 to wash, and a coat costs $20-$30 to wash.
Prisoners are usually paid between 20 to 60 cents an hour for washing laundry.
A media spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said the 20-60 cents isn’t a salary or wage, but a “Prisoner Incentive Allowance”. It’s used to “encourage prisoners to take part in activities that we know help with their rehabilitation and reintegration”.
In 2017, Victoria University acknowledged that an “informal historic agreement that was never recorded in writing” had existed between the university and the Department of Corrections, who contract the services out to Arohata Prison, since the late 1990s, to use labour from the prison for laundry services.

Salient first reported that the prison was washing laundry for Weir House, Campus Services, and Human Resources in 2015.
In May 2016, the University said that they had stopped using the services of Arohata Prison.
However, further reporting by Salient revealed that Weir House and Joan Stevens Hall were still using prison laundry services during Trimester Three of 2016-17.
In August 2018, Salient used the Official Information Act to ask the University if the prison contracting had continued.The University originally stated that “the University does currently contract the laundry services of Arohata Prison… nor has it done so in the past”.
However, when we asked the University for clarification, directing them to the 2015 Salient article, a spokesperson confirmed that “the University has contracted Arohata Prison for laundry services in the past”. They apologised for the confusion caused by the “wording” in the previous response. They also confirmed that the last time that the University had used the prison laundry services was on 1 May 2017.
A spreadsheet seen by Salient under the OIA show that in the period between 12 January 2012 and 1 May 2017, the University paid the Department of Corrections nearly $6000 for laundry services. Over 1000 different transactions were carried out. Services were used more during the summer trimester, when halls provide fully made beds to groups staying over the summer, as well as bath mats and towels.


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